WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s latest choice to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a former border patrol chief under the Obama administration who has publicly backed the president’s border wall.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that Mark Morgan “will be joining the Trump Administration as the head of our hard working men and women of ICE.” He added: “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!”
The announcement follows a shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security triggered by the president’s frustration with the increasing number of migrants at the border. The shake-up started last month, when Trump withdrew Ron Vitiello’s nomination to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement midway through the confirmation process. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen then resigned, along with Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady, who was in line to be her successor.
Morgan, who was named the head of the U.S. Border Patrol in 2016, was ousted early in Trump’s presidency. It was not immediately clear if he had been formally nominated for the new role, which will require Senate confirmation.
The acting Homeland Security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, said in a statement that Morgan’s “record of service is needed to address the crisis at the border and support the men and women of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
A former FBI agent, Morgan was the first and so far the only outsider to lead the Border Patrol. He clashed with its union, which has a strong relationship with Trump. Since he left, he has defended Trump’s immigration policies on Fox News and publicly declared earlier this year his support for Trump’s efforts to build a wall along the southern border.
In April, Trump made his appreciation known, tweeting: “Mark Morgan, President Obama’s Border Patrol Chief, gave the following message to me: ‘President Trump, stay the course.’ I agree, and believe it or not, we are making great progress with a system that has been broken for many years!”
ICE is the agency tasked with enforcing immigration law in the interior of the U.S. Part of ICE’s mission is to arrest immigrants in the U.S. illegally, which has made it a symbol of Trump’s hardline immigration policies.