President Donald Trump has picked Mark Morgan, a former director of the U.S. Border Patrol under the Obama administration, to head U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Trump made the announcement on Sunday via Twitter, apparently to the surprise of ICE leaders who had no advance knowledge of the decision, according to The Washington Post.
“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 wrote. “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!”
A senior administration official told the Post: “ICE leadership had no advance notice of Morgan’s selection before the tweet.”
Morgan, a former FBI official, briefly headed the Border Patrol until he was fired after the Trump administration took office. In January, he publicly spoke out in favor of Trump’s demands for a costly border wall.
“I’m here today breaking my silence to tell the American people that the president is correct in what he’s doing,” Morgan told Law & Crime at the time. “The wall works.”
Law & Crime pointed out that in 2016, Morgan had told the Senate that the southern U.S. border needed more “fencing,” but he didn’t mention anything about a wall. Referring to the fencing, Morgan said, “Do we need it everywhere? No. Is it the sole answer? No.”
Law & Crime asked Morgan if the White House had prompted him to publicly voice his support for a wall. Morgan said no, adding, “I’m a patriot.”
When speaking about Trump’s decision to shut down the federal government in a failed attempt to obtain wall funding from Congress, Morgan said, “I can stand up and say they are right because it’s the right thing to do for this country. I’m begging the president to stay the course,” according to the Post.
Morgan must now be confirmed by the Senate. His nomination replaces that of former acting director Ron Vitiello, whom Trump initially had nominated to head ICE. However, Trump withdrew Vitiello’s nomination last month after White House adviser Stephen Miller and ICE union leader Chris Crane complained, the Post said.
Trump said at the time that he wanted someone “tougher” than Vitiello to head ICE. “We want to go in a tougher direction,” he said.
Vitiello was reportedly “blindsided” by Trump’s decision.