The United States Border Patrol has a new chief, Ronald Vitiello, who has spent 30 years rising in the agency's ranks. Vitiello was appointed with the full backing of his union, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), which also vocally backed President Trump's candidacy and which fiercely opposed the previous chief, Mark Morgan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.
Morgan had spent his career in the FBI and was thus considered an outsider to the rank and file of the Border Patrol. He had supported reforming the culture of the agency, including increased transparency, more vigorous investigations of misconduct, and stricter rules regarding the use of deadly force. Morgan had also gone public with his support of immigration reform, infuriating the agents under his command.
Yet even with a reform-minded chief at the helm, the internal agency board created to vigorously investigate numerous disturbing allegations of excessive force by Border Patrol agents absolved those agents of wrongdoing every time.
Shortly after Trump's election, the NBPC executive board published an op-ed in Breitbart calling Morgan "a disgrace to the Border Patrol." And last week, a day after Trump signed an executive order officially calling for the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, Morgan was asked to resign from his leadership post.
NBPC union head Brandon Judd told the Associated Press last month that Morgan "didn't know the job to begin with," and said in a statement earlier this week, "The previous administration's attempts to treat the Border Patrol like any law enforcement agency resulted in leadership that was reactive and in constant crisis." When the union publicly backed Trump in March 2016, it released a statement justifying its first-ever presidential endorsement by arguing "if we do not secure our borders, American communities will continue to suffer at the hands of gangs, cartels and violent criminals preying on the innocent. The lives and security of the American people are at stake…"
The Border Patrol has jurisdiction over 8,000 miles of land and coastal areas, as well as any area within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders, where it operates about 170 checkpoints and conducts "dragnet, suspicionless stops that cannot be reconciled with Fourth Amendment protections," according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Watch Reason TV's classic video "Holding Border Patrol Accountable: Terry Bressi on Recording his 300+ Checkpoint Interactions" below.