The chief of the embattled United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is stepping down from his post effective June 30, 2023, further complicating the federal government’s ongoing mishandling of an escalating crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“After a 32-year Border Patrol career spanning multiple Sectors, HQ tours, and overseas assignments in Afghanistan, I have decided to retire from federal service on June 30th,” CBP chief Raul Ortiz wrote in an interagency email obtained by The Daily Caller. “Serving as your chief has been one of the greatest honors and privileges I have had and please know I will always champion this agency, its mission, and the people who make the Border Patrol everything that it is.”
Ortiz was appointed chief two years ago after his predecessor, Rodney Scott, was forced to resign. Prior to taking the top job at the agency, Ortiz was praised as deputy CBP chief by former U.S. president Donald Trump in his 2020 State of the Union address.
“A grateful nation thanks you and all of the heroes of Border Patrol and ICE,” Trump said during his address. “Thank you very much.”
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Ortiz has been outspoken about the deteriorating situation at the border since U.S. president Joe Biden inherited the presidency from Trump in January 2021. Two months ago, he made a grim acknowledgment while testifying before a U.S. House field committee investigating the crisis.
“Does DHS have operational control of our entire border?” Ortiz was asked by U.S. congressman Mark Green of Tennessee.
“No sir,” he responded.
That statement contradicted comments previously made by Ortiz’s boss, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – who has previously been debunked for claiming Biden’s administration “inherited a broken and dismantled (immigration) system” from Trump.
Just hours before Ortiz’s impending resignation was announced, he published a tweet documenting the new normal at the border …
CBP reported 211,401 border apprehensions during the month of April 2023 – continuing a spike which began during Biden’s first months in office. Since February 2021 – Biden’s first full month as president – CBP has recorded a staggering 5.25 million border apprehensions (including a record 2.4 million during the 2022 fiscal year).
Apprehensions under Biden have averaged 194,412 per month, according to the latest data.
By contrast, there were 458,088 apprehensions during Trump’s final fiscal year in office – an average of 38,174 per month.
Take a look …
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As our special projects director Dylan Nolan noted earlier this month, border encounters are “not the end-all-be-all statistic for illegal immigration analysis.”
“Administrations can structure policies to minimize encounters in order to make the numbers give a false impression,” he wrote.
That’s true, but other metrics – including America’s record immigration backlog – underscore the problem. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency, there was a backlog of 8.6 million applications and petitions at the end of the 2022 fiscal year – with wait times for a hearing approaching five years.
Critics of open borders also point to a nationwide spike in violent crime and overdoses as evidence of the failure of Biden’s administration to keep gangs and drugs from flowing into the country.
The situation is expected to deteriorate further with the May 11, 2023 expiration of Title 42 – a.k.a. Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy. Title 42 was an emergency measure implemented by Trump during Covid-19 with the purported goal of stopping the spread of the virus. It allowed CBP agents to immediately expel migrants without processing their asylum requests. While Title 42 was implemented by Trump, expulsions based on its authority soared under Biden – who reneged on his promise to end the policy in July 2021.
Unaltered since December 30, 1853, the U.S.-Mexican border runs 1,954 miles from San Diego, California on the Pacific Ocean to the mouth of the Rio Grande in the Gulf of Mexico. Divided into nine sectors, is the tenth longest land border on the planet. Securing this expansive boundary was a centerpiece of Trump’s first two presidential campaigns – most notably his heralded construction of a “big, beautiful wall.”
Trump claimed his border wall would be 1,000 miles long – and would be paid for by Mexico. Upon taking office, though, he cut this estimate in half – claiming in his 2020 State of the Union that “substantially more than 500 miles” of the wall would be constructed by the beginning of 2021.
On the day Trump left office, 453 miles worth of border wall had been constructed. Of that total, only 80 miles of wall was constructed in areas where no previous structures existed.
Nevertheless, Biden blocked further construction on his first day in office – signing an executive order pausing “each construction project on the southern border wall” and restricting any further “obligation of funds related to construction of a southern border wall.”
“Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution,” Biden said in a proclamation issued by the White House on January 20, 2021. “It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security. My administration is committed to ensuring that the United States has a comprehensive and humane immigration system that operates consistently with our nation’s values.”
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Biden’s order further terminated the “national emergency” declared by Trump with respect to the southern border in February 2019. Two months later, on March 24, 2021, Biden tapped his second-in-command – Kamala Harris – to lead America’s efforts in “stemming the migration to our southern border.”
“She’s the most qualified person to do it,” Biden said at the time.
Harris has visited the border just once since taking office, however, and has been pilloried by Republicans for her aloofness in the face of the worsening invasion. Harris has also been blasted by the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), which represents border patrol agents. This group recently blasted her as a “clown” on social media, and referred to the Biden administration as the “most corrupt administration in U.S. history.”
On the day Ortiz’s resignation was announced, this news outlet’s founding editor was visiting the U.S.-Mexican border in San Luis, Arizona. We will be at the border through Thursday (June 1, 2023) of this week as we seek to learn more about what is causing the current immigration crisis – and what can be done to stop it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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