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Trump announces former Obama Border Patrol chief will lead ICE

Posted at 12:50 PM, May 05, 2019

President Donald Trump on Sunday tapped Mark Morgan, former chief of US Border Patrol during the final months of the Obama administration, to lead 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 Sunday morning. "Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!"

Morgan left his position as head of Border Patrol in January 2017, shortly after Trump signed a pair of executive orders strengthening border security and stepping up immigration enforcement.

He has since emerged as a vocal proponent of the President's efforts to build a border wall, appearing on CNN and other outlets to defend the national emergency declaration Trump tried to use as a vehicle for wall funding in February.

Trump's new nominee to lead ICE comes just weeks after the White House suddenly pulled the previous nominee, Ron Vitiello, from consideration at the urging of Stephen Miller, the White House senior adviser whose hardline views have often guided the administration on immigration.

The President said he withdrew Vitiello's nomination because he wanted to take his immigration policy in a "tougher direction." Days later, Trump also dismissed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who Trump came to view as insufficiently tough on immigration as illegal border crossings continued to climb this year.

Despite failing to secure his requested money for the wall or changes to immigration laws from Congress, Trump has pushed for increasingly tighter security at the border in recent weeks. His administration proposed sweeping changes to asylum rules late last month, and the White House has asked lawmakers to fund resources that officials have described as necessary to address the humanitarian crisis along the southwest border -- including an expansion of detention space, which Democrats have long opposed.