President Donald Trump said he has chosen Mark Morgan, an Obama-era Border Patrol chief known for his bullish support of the president's border wall, to head 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 announced on Twitter on Sunday. "Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!"
Morgan, a career FBI official, headed US Border Patrol for the final six months of the Obama administration before being forced out days after Trump took office. In January 2019, he came out as a fierce supporter of Trump's border wall.
In February, Morgan said that Trump was forced to declare a national emergency to get funding for the border wall because "Congress has failed." Commenting on immigrants entering the US, Morgan told Fox News in April, "This isn't just a crisis. This is a crisis like we've never experienced in the history of this country."
The agency, which has more than 20,000 agents and is responsible for deportations and detentions, has experienced several shakeups under Trump.
Morgan will replace the acting head of the agency, Matthew Albence, who once stated that family detention centers were "more like a summer camp." Morgan must be confirmed by the Senate before he can take on the role of ICE director.
Albence headed the agency in the interim period after Trump abruptly ditched his nominee to lead ICE, Ronald Vitiello, saying, "We want to go in a tougher direction." Vitiello, who served in US Border Patrol for 30 years, was on track to be Trump’s first Senate-confirmed director of ICE, but was viewed as restrained in his approach.
The move to tap Morgan to head ICE is "another clear signal from the WH of the supreme importance of the immigration mission," a former senior ICE official told BuzzFeed News.
In cable news appearances, Morgan has become one of the louder supporters for Trump's border wall, at a time when Trump is pushing illegal immigration and a wall as keystone issues for the 2020 presidential election. The wall has been met by fierce opposition from Democrats, and has stalled over funding issues.
"I know this border. The president is doing the right thing. He's right on this issue," Morgan told Lou Dobbs in an interview on Fox News last week.
Morgan has also stated that he supports Trump's proposal to send immigrants from the border to sanctuary cities.
“Border Patrol, ICE, their facilities are overwhelmed, the faith-based organizations and other nongovernmental organizations are overwhelmed,” Morgan told Fox News. “They have no choice. They’re going to have to start pushing these individuals out. Shouldn't we kind of share the burden throughout the country?”
Hamed Aleaziz contributed reporting to this story.