WASHINGTON—Filling another gap created by a big Department of Homeland Security shakeup, President Donald Trump has tapped former Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“I am pleased to inform all of those that believe in a strong, fair and sound Immigration Policy that Mark Morgan will be joining the Trump Administration as the head of our hard working men and women of ICE,” Trump wrote on Twitter on May 5. “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!”
Morgan served as former President Barack Obama’s Border Patrol Chief at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. He is also a 20-year veteran of the FBI.
Trump removed Morgan six days after taking office in January 2017 and replaced him with Ronald Vitiello. Subsequently, Vitiello moved to acting director of ICE after Tom Homan retired in June 2018. And now, Morgan will replace Vitiello.
Morgan has been in the public eye about border security in the past few months, vociferously supporting a border wall and the need for Congress to close legal loopholes that are allowing for hundreds of thousands of bogus asylum claims.
In an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times on April 24, Morgan said the current crisis on the border is the “worst in our history.”
“The border is still 60 percent wide open, meaning it doesn’t have enough infrastructure, technology, and personnel,” Morgan said. “And because anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of Border Patrol resources are being pulled away and dedicated to the humanitarian side, the border is even more wide-open for the cartels to do what? Exploit. To bring drugs, contraband, and bad people in.”
Morgan’s new job is focused on interior enforcement, investigations into trafficking, and preventing terrorism.
In the recent interview, Morgan touched upon several things he thinks ICE can do to stem the flow of illegal immigration, especially the huge influx of economic migrants from Central America.
“I think we need to pass a regulation that will actually give ICE the ability to detain family units while they’re going through the immigration process,” Morgan said. “At the same time, let’s reinstitute what they used to do called ‘port courts.’ That means we shoot all the assets—a whole government approach—down to the border, everything that you need, soup-to-nuts, to be able to have the immigration hearing and do that quickly. And then, if those claims are found to be substantiated, then they’ll be allowed in. If not, we remove them immediately.
“And so the last part of that is we need to ramp up our interior enforcement. There are over a million illegal immigrants who entered the country illegally, filed a false claim, have received due justice through the immigration proceedings, and they’ve found to be false, and they’ve received a deportation order removal. A million, and they still remain here illegally. We can’t wait for Congress. We need to act ourselves.”
Trump removed Vitiello from his post at ICE early April, saying the agency is “going in a little different direction.”
“Ron’s a good man. But we’re going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction,” Trump said April 5.
Two days later, Kirstjen Nielsen left her post as Secretary of Homeland Security, and then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan assumed the mantle of acting secretary.