Mar 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Ex-Border Patrol chief: Cartels "winning" in Texas-Biden admin legal fight

CBS' Cecilia Vega and former U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz speaking at the U.S.-Mexico border for an episode of "60 Minutes."

CBS' Cecilia Vega and former U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz during a segment of "60 Minutes" broadcast Sunday. Photo: CBS/"60 Minutes"

Recently retired U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz raised concerns about legal battles between the administrations of President Biden and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) during an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" broadcast Sunday.

The big picture: Both administrations have criticized each other's responses to large numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border amid a wider global humanitarian crisis that's displaced tens of millions of people.

  • The Biden administration has challenged Texas in the courts on the installation of razor wire along the Rio Grande and a state law that would allow local authorities and judges to arrest and deport migrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The Biden administration has also accused Texas officials of blocking border agents.

What they're saying: "The National Guardsmen even, to some degree, the border patrol agents have become pawns in this political game between the two sides," said Ortiz, who retired at the end of June, on "60 Minutes."

  • CBS' Cecilia Vega asked Ortiz who he thought was winning the battle.
  • "The cartels, the criminal organizations, that's who's winning in all of this," he said. "They're sitting back reaping all the benefits while they watch the state of Texas and Washington D.C. go at it."

Zoom out: Ortiz served in a variety of roles with Border Patrol during his 32 years with the agency, including as deputy chief in the Trump administration.

  • During his interview on "60 Minutes," he criticized Abbott for not working with Border Patrol agents and accused the White House of sending migrants mixed messages.
  • He said he had "never had one conversation" with President Biden.

The other side: Biden campaigned on ending Trump-era border policies, but he now accuses Republicans of blocking his efforts to halt the historic migrant crisis.

  • During his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border last week he urged the former president to "join" him to get Congress to pass the toughest immigration legislation in decades.
  • On "60 Minutes," Abbott defended his aggressive response to the number of migrant crossings. "Every area where the cartels use as a crossing we intend to be barricading," he said.
  • Vega noted the border would look like a "war zone." Abbott replied: "It is a war zone."
  • Representatives for the Biden administration did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper... Split screen: Biden, Trump and two very different border trips

Go deeper