Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz will retire at the end of next month, leaving the agency after overseeing the most chaotic border in modern American history.
Homeland Security announced the retirement Tuesday night, after news reports revealed the move.
“The Border Patrol is stronger, and our nation is more secure, thanks to his leadership. I will miss his candor, our thought partnership, and our friendship,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
In an email to fellow agents, the chief said he would retire on June 30. The email was reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
He is the second chief to serve during President Biden’s tenure. The first, Rodney Scott, was forced out in 2021 as he resisted the new president’s catch-and-release border policies.
Mr. Mayorkas said Chief Ortiz, who was the deputy chief at the time, was also planning to retire around that time but the secretary said he talked him into staying.
“Chief Ortiz agreed to postpone his retirement several times since and the Border Patrol, the Department, and our country have been all the better for it,” Mr. Mayorkas said.
The border numbers under Chief Ortiz have been grim, reaching all-time records of 10,000 migrants caught on several days earlier this month.
The numbers have improved since then, but are still average more than 3,000 a day.
Meanwhile the Border Patrol has had to fend off a series of issues on Chief Ortiz’s watch, including a high number of agent suicides and a record number of migrant deaths.
In September 2021 Mr. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Mr. Mayorkas suggested agents on horseback had whipped Haitian migrants trying to jump the border in Texas. Ms. Harris suggested it evoked days of whipping slaves.
A lengthy investigation, however, would prove that nobody was whipped.
More recently Chief Ortiz created a “parole” policy to catch and release migrants during a renewed surge earlier this month. A federal judge blocked the policy, saying it ran afoul of immigration law.
Chief Ortiz has also been caught in the crossfire between Mr. Mayorkas and Republicans on Capitol Hill over the strength of the border.
Mr. Mayorkas has called the border secure, but Chief Ortiz in his own testimony to lawmakers has challenged that idea, saying in testimony in March that five of the nine sectors along the southern border weren’t secure.
But standing alongside Mr. Mayorkas in Texas earlier this month, he re-parsed his words to try to argue he and the secretary were in step.
“I’ve been doing this job for 32 years. We’ve never had operational control,” Chief Ortiz said.
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