US border patrol chief leaving amid Trump wall plan

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US President Donald Trump

The chief of the US Border Patrol is leaving the agency on the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement of an ambitious plan to build a massive wall at the Mexican border and hire 5,000 Border Patrol agents.

It was not immediately clear whether Mark Morgan resigned or was asked to leave. Customs and Border Protection said that Mr Morgan’s last official day in office will be on Tuesday.

But a US official and a former official said Border Patrol agents were told on Thursday that Mr Morgan was no longer with the agency.

Mr Morgan was named to the post in June and took office in October.

The former FBI agent briefly led the internal affairs department at the Border Patrol’s parent agency before heading the agency of roughly 20,000 agents.

Mr Morgan leaves office only seven months after being named the first outsider to lead the agency since it was founded in 1924.

From the start, he clashed with the Border Patrol’s union, which endorsed Mr Trump
early and forcefully during the presidential campaign. The National Border Patrol Council had advocated for an insider to lead the agency and sharply criticised Mr Morgan at almost every turn.

The former official said Mr Morgan was not at work on Wednesday and did not attend a gathering at the Homeland Security Department with Mr Trump and newly appointed homeland security secretary John Kelly.

During that visit Mr Trump singled out the union’s president, Brandon Judd, while pointedly avoiding mention of Mr Morgan.

Mr Judd served on Mr Trump’s transition team.

The union was incensed when Mr Morgan told a Senate hearing on December 1, in response to a question from Senator Tom Carper, that he supported a comprehensive immigration overhaul, which is often interpreted to include a path to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally.

Mr Morgan clarified his remarks in a note to Border Patrol staff the following week.

“I want to be clear what my position is regarding immigration reform,” Mr Morgan wrote.

“I do not, as some have suggested, support what is often referred to as ‘blanket amnesty.’ This assertion could not be further from my position. I encourage everyone to listen to my testimony.”

Despite pressure from the union, many agency officials said Mr Morgan appeared to embrace the job.

Less than a week ago, the first message on his new Twitter account read: “Chief Morgan here — excited to use this account to share the latest news and events of the #BorderPatrol with followers.”

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