May 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Border Patrol chief to retire after end of Title 42 immigration policy

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz attends a press conference on May 5, 2023 in Brownsville, Texas.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz in Brownsville, Texas, earlier this month. Photo: Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz is retiring next month after serving in various roles with the agency for 32 years, officials announced Tuesday.

The big picture: The career official has in recent years helped navigate historic numbers of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border amid a wider global humanitarian crisis and, more recently, the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 immigration policy.

  • There were concerns about a rush on the border once the policy that made it easier for authorities to turn people away there ended earlier this month, but Biden officials have instead reported a decline in crossings.
  • However, Axios' Stef Kight notes that the people American officials have been tracking in northern Mexico as poised to enter the U.S. "haven't turned back — they're just marking time south of the border."

What they're saying: "I leave at ease, knowing we have a tremendous uniformed and professional workforce, strong relationships with our union partners, and outstanding leaders who will continue to tirelessly advocate for you each day," Ortiz said in a memo obtained by outlets including NewsNation.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Troy Miller in a statement said he had "benefitted greatly" from the "partnership, expertise, wise counsel, and friendship" of Ortiz, whom he called a true leader.
"Every single day, he champions the men and women of the Border Patrol and has worked tirelessly to ensure that they have the tools, resources, and support they need to do their jobs. He has numerous accolades and awards from his tenure in the Border Patrol, but the highest compliment we can bestow on him is that he is a great agent."

Of note: Ortiz has headed up Border Patrol since August 2021, when he replaced Rodney Scott, who backed the Trump administration's policies including the border wall.

What we're watching: His retirement is effective June 30.

  • It was not immediately clear who'll replace Ortiz and CBP representatives did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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