Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Carla L. Provost testifies before the House Committee on Appropriations during a Border Patrol oversight hearing in Washington on July 24, 2019. (CBP photo by Glenn Fawcett)

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost, First Woman to Lead Agency, to Step Down

Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost, who is entering her 25th year with the agency, will be stepping down, according to multiple media reports.

Provost’s departure was first reported by the Washington Examiner, which said that she planned to retire this past December but “was forced to put her plans on hold due to infighting at CBP over whether a white or nonwhite person should replace her and what message the race of the new chief would send.”

NBC News quoted an unnamed Homeland Security official describing Provost’s exit as “pretty simple,” saying it was related to her being eligible to retire.

The Washington Examiner reported in November that CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan lamented having “too many white faces” in Border Patrol leadership as Acting Deputy Chief Rodney Scott, an agent for 27 years and white, had been expected to be Provost’s successor. Scott and Provost were both members of the Facebook group “I’m 10-15,” which included some agents joking about migrant deaths and posting racist or sexist memes; the Examiner said Morgan tried to get Provost to retire over the controversy.

Provost told Congress that she was rarely on Facebook and reported her membership to CBP after realizing she belonged to the online group.

A Kansas native, Provost began her law enforcement career at the Riley County Police Department and joined the Border Patrol in 1995. She rose through the ranks and was named acting chief in April 2017, with appointment to the permanent role in August 2018. She’s the first woman to lead the Border Patrol.

“I worry about the morale of my men and women. They are the most important part of this equation,” Provost told HSToday late last year. “I think we live in a world where people believe a headline – and headlines capture so little of what’s truly going on. So that’s my biggest concern.”

There have been “surprises every day” in leadership as “the border is so dynamic” and “the world is so dynamic,” she said.

“I don’t think when I came in I would have ever expected the humanitarian crisis that we’ve dealt with here over the last 18 months. That is just one example, but surprises have been all along the way,” Provost said. “I was surprised that I stayed in the Border Patrol because when I joined, being a police officer in Kansas, I didn’t know anything about the Border Patrol and I thought, well, I’ll use it as a steppingstone for something else, but I got in and was on the ground from here. I swore I’d never leave, and it’s because of the men and women of the Border Patrol that I’m sitting in this position right now.”

Threats, Morale and Mission: An Interview with Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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