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New Head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Named

Mark Morgan, who was only recently appointed as acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was named on 27 June as acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He replaces John Sanders, who resigned after just three months atop CBP.

Prior to assuming his current post, Sanders had served in several technical and managerial positions at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The New York Times reported that the White House directed Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to replace Sanders with Morgan after “multiple White House officials expressed displeasure that Mr. Sanders was not being aggressive enough at the southwestern border.” McAleenan complied in hopes of diminishing friction with the White House, officials said.

Morgan holds a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from the University of Central Missouri as well as a law degree from the University of Missouri.  A former Marine, Morgan entered law enforcement in 1995 as a Los Angeles police officer and subsequently spent a total of 20 years in career positions at the Federal Bureau of Investigations. In 2014, Morgan was appointed head of internal affairs at CBP before returning to the FBI after less than a year. In October 2016, he returned to CBP as head of Border Patrol.

Shortly after the inauguration of President Trump on 20 January 2017, Morgan and other Obama administration officials were asked to resign to make room for new appointees. He then served as a security consultant and spoke frequently on cable news, declaring to CNN in February 2019 that Trump “had no choice” but to declare a national emergency in order to fund a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Morgan also later declared on the Fox television network that “I agree 100 percent with what the president is trying to do with all things border security,” leading Trump to tweet that “Mark Morgan, Former Border Patrol Chief with great experience in Law Enforcement, really understands the subjects of Immigration and the Border.”

In May 2019, after first tweeting that he was looking to go in a “tougher direction” on immigration enforcement Trump surprised senior DHS management by tweeting that he had chosen Morgan to serve as acting head of ICE. Morgan has publicly backed the ICE raids that Trump had announced but then delayed. He has also defended the conditions at ICE detention centres, which reports have described as denying basic hygiene to children. “I am confident he will bring the same commitment to the agency as it continues to navigate the current humanitarian and operational crisis,” McAleenan said in a statement.

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