Trump Picks Mark Morgan as New Head of ICE in Continued Shakeup

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump plans to nominate Mark Morgan, who led the Border Patrol during the final months of the Obama administration, as the next head of U.S. 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 on Sunday.

Morgan’s nomination comes as Trump has looked to reshape his administration’s immigration team amid a surge of migrant apprehensions at the southern border.

Trump in April pulled the nomination of ICE’s acting director, Ronald Vitiello, telling reporters he had changed his mind because he wanted to go in a “different direction” with someone “tougher.” Morgan, a former FBI agent, supported a border wall, one of Trump’s signature campaign issues.

Vitiello subsequently resigned from the administration, joining a group of senior Trump officials -- including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen -- forced out as the president sought to toughen the U.S. response to the surge in migrants.

Morgan, who himself was pushed out of his job leading Border Patrol at the beginning of the Trump administration, seemed to seek favor with the White House in a series of cable news appearances and during congressional testimony in which he defended the president’s approach to immigration.

Union Opposition

“The president’s absolutely right in the pressure he’s putting on Mexico,” Morgan said during an appearance on Fox News last month.

His nomination comes despite an early departure from the administration at the urging of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents border agents, which has a strong relationship with the president and preferred an insider to lead the agency.

Trump Picks Mark Morgan as New Head of ICE in Continued Shakeup

Union head Brandon Judd, who was a member of the president’s transition team, said Morgan “didn’t know the job” in an interview with the Associated Press.

The nomination also comes as the administration attempts to accelerate its crackdown on migrants. The Justice Department is evaluating a proposal to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who’ve used public benefits, Reuters reported last week.

And late last month, Trump ordered his administration to propose regulations that would impose fees on migrants applying for asylum, as well as speed up the asylum application process. In an accompanying presidential memorandum, Trump said “the security and humanitarian crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border “undermines our nation’s security and sovereignty.”

Separately, the White House last week asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency border funds. The request includes $3.3 billion to shelter migrants and to process their arrival, $1.1 billion for operations including detention beds and personnel, as well as $178 million for information-technology system upgrades and law enforcement pay adjustments.

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