US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on June 20 that Mark Morgan, who currently serves as the Assistant Director of the FBI, will be the new chief of the US Border Patrol. The decision departs from the traditional practice of selecting someone from within the agency.
CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said Morgan’s appointment comes at a significant time for Border Patrol. The selection occurred just days before a deadlocked Supreme Court denied the President the ability to grant amnesty to the 4 million illegal immigrants here in the United States.
Morgan replaces Michael Fisher, who retired in 2015. Ronald Vitiello, who was deputy chief under Fisher, has been serving as interim chief.
As chief, Morgan will be responsible for overseeing daily operations of the US Border Patrol, which includes controlling and protecting the nation’s borders and official points of entry. Morgan will assist in planning and directing nationwide enforcement administrative operations and report to the Commissioner of CBP.
“The important role that CBP has in securing our border and protecting civil rights and civil liberties is evidenced every day in the actions of our personnel,” Kerlikowske said. “He will be in a key leadership position responsible for more than 21,000 border patrol agents and personnel.”
Morgan, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, brings decades of experience in the military and law enforcement related to border security and anti-terrorism operations to his new position.
In 2011 Morgan was appointed the Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso Division. Morgan was responsible for leading all threat-based and intelligence driven counterterrorism, criminal, cyber and counterintelligence operations.
Later, in 2014, Morgan served as the Acting Assistant Commissioner for Internal Affairs in detail assignment with CBP. While holding this position, Morgan planned, organized and coordinated the re-design of CBP’s Use of Force Incident Response Protocols. Morgan also directed operations for the screening of potential employees, implemented security measures and launched CBP’s criminal and serious administrative conduct investigative unit.
James B Comey, director of the FBI, said that throughout Morgan’s career at the FBI he was an asset to the agency. “He will bring the same passion for justice and public service that he demonstrated over more than 20 years of service in the FBI to his new role as Chief of the Border Patrol,” Comey said.
Outside of the FBI, Morgan has served as the deputy sheriff in Platte County, Missouri and as an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. Morgan was an active¬-duty member and reservist in the US Marine Corps.
“It is my great privilege and honor to be selected to serve with the men and women of the US Border Patrol and to lead this great organization,” Morgan said.
Despite Morgan’s qualifications, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) expressed concern with CBP’s decision to break with tradition. NBPC hopes Morgan will prioritize officer safety, listen and act upon the suggestion of the men and women working on the border every day, and develop a solid working relationship with senior leadership.
“While we are disappointed that Commissioner Kerlikowske chose to break with 92 years of tradition and pass over several highly qualified candidates from within the Border Patrol, we look forward to working with Chief Morgan on the important issues and policies affecting the United States Border Patrol,” NBPC said in a statement.