With less than a year left on the job, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske announced in June that Mark Morgan will be the new U.S. Border Patrol Chief. It was a curious move. With so little time before Kerlikowske is replaced in the next administration, it was surprising to some that he would appoint a new chief for whom he will have no responsibility nor accountability — at least not for long.
Nevertheless, Chief Morgan is taking the reins of an agency facing significant challenges. Here are five priorities for him to tackle on Day 1.
1. Engender Agency Support
It has been 92 years since a Border Patrol Chief was drawn from an outside agency. Morgan is currently the Assistant Director of the FBI Training Division, and his career includes a 2014 stint as acting assistant commissioner for CBP Internal Affairs. While he brings a strong law enforcement background, Border Patrol agents on the frontlines have intimated that they are at least confused (and at most resentful) of why the outgoing CBP Commissioner would select a leader who has never made an immigration arrest in his career, even as that is one of the fundamental responsibilities of the U.S. Border Patrol.