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U.S. Border Patrol chief who supported wall is stepping down

Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott.
Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott.

WASHINGTON, DC — The chief of the U.S. Border Patrol says he is leaving his job after less than two years in a position that lies in the crosshairs of polarizing political debate.

Rodney Scott wrote to agents that he will be reassigned.

He said Wednesday that he had received a directed reassignment letter, which provides recipients the option to relocate, resign or retire, and shared he would remain in his current position for about 60 days. “I will continue working hard to support you over the next several weeks to ensure a smooth transition,” he wrote.

The career agent was appointed chief in January 2020 and enthusiastically embraced then-President Donald Trump’s policies, particularly on building a border wall. He began his career with U.S. Border Patrol in 1992.

President Joe Biden has canceled wall construction, one of his predecessor’s top priorities. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz is expected to step into the role on an acting basis.

Prior to serving as Border Patrol chief, Scott served as the acting deputy Border Patrol chief. Before then, he also ran the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, where he was in charge during the arrival of a migrant caravan in 2018, as well as the widely reported border incident in which migrants on the Mexican side rushed the border area, leading U.S. Border Patrol agents to fire tear gas at the group.

Most recently, Scott led the agency during a record number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. The surge in children crossing the border alone this spring overwhelmed border facilities, leading to crowded conditions and kids waiting to be placed in shelters equipped to care for them. While arrests of unaccompanied children dropped in May, apprehensions of migrants along the U.S. southern border remain high.

Biden nominated Tucson, Arizona, police chief Chris Magnus to serve as U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner in April. The Border Patrol’s parent agency hasn’t had a confirmed commissioner since Kevin McAleenan, who was tapped from the agency to serve as acting Homeland Security secretary and eventually left the Trump administration.

It was previously reported that Benjamine “Carry” Huffman, who has served at CBP over three decades, will take over the role of acting CBP deputy commissioner, following the retirement of Robert Perez at the end of June.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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