President Donald Trump said Sunday that he has selected an Obama-era chief of the U.S. Border Patrol to be the next director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“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 tweeted on Sunday. “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot.”
It is the latest in a line of personnel changes at the agencies overseeing immigration enforcement.
The position requires Senate confirmation. And given the recent experience with the expected nominations of Herman Cain and Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve (neither of which were ever sent to the Senate), it is worth noting that no White House paperwork has been received.
Morgan, who has publicly supported Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, led the Border Patrol for about the last six months of the Obama administration.
A former assistant FBI director, Morgan has made appearances on Fox News Channel Channel in recent weeks to discuss both immigration policy and the report of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Morgan told “Fox & Friends” on March 7 that the idea migrants — including children — were being held in cages was really a “talking point for the Democrats”
“They’re not cages. They’re actually really nice facilities, and there are chain-link fences within the facilities, but it’s designed so the Border Patrol agents working there can provide safety and security for the people that are there,” he said in that Fox interview.
Trump had named Ronald Vitiello to be the ICE director, but the nomination was ultimately withdrawn, with the president telling reporters in early April that, “we’re going in a tougher direction.”
The withdrawal of Vitiello's nomination was followed by the forced resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen as secretary of Homeland Security, the sprawling department that includes ICE, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
If nominated and confirmed, Morgan would replace acting director of ICE Matthew T. Albence, who took over in that capacity last month when Vitiello departed.
There’s still no Senate-confirmed leader at the top of DHS.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan is the acting secretary of Homeland Security, which is the third-largest Cabinet department with 22 agencies and more than 240,000 employees. McAleenan took over after the departure of Nielsen on April 7. She was frequently criticized by Trump for what he considered a porous southern border, and the president shuffled the departmental leadership amid a harder line on immigration policy.
Nielsen was a fierce supporter of Trump’s immigration agenda and became embroiled in controversies after the government implemented the “zero tolerance” policy that arrested anyone coming across the southwest border illegally and resulted in the separation of more than 2,700 children from their parents.
Camila DeChalus contributed to this report.