The Biden administration has pushed out Rodney Scott, the head of the U.S. Border Patrol, paving the way for the White House to install its own chief of the agency that oversees the nation’s border crossings and other critical homeland security functions.
He has been asked to move off his position, said a senior Department of Homeland Security official. That official said it was not clear yet whether Brown would stay at DHS in another role or leave the beleaguered department, which the Biden administration is trying to overhaul after years of controversies over its handling of undocumented immigrants trying to get into the United States.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said no specific reason was cited for forcing out Scott. But the 29-year veteran had clashed with Democrats in Washington and Biden administration officials over how best to approach illegal immigration and other border-related matters.
Scott himself posted a statement on social media saying that he had been given the option to resign, retire or relocate with no rationale provided, according to The Washington Post, which first reported his removal. He described it as a pro forma notice so the new administration can place the person they want in the position, but suggested he might stay for 60 days.
A huge thank you to all those who have reached out, prayed and supported me and my family, especially over these last few crazy months, Scott wrote.
Brown’s departure from the high-profile role has been expected for months, given the clashes between the administration and top U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, who had made no secret of their support for former President Donald Trump and his staunch anti-immigration policies.
The Biden administration already has nominated its own head of CBP, Tucson police chief Chris Magnus, who is widely regarded as a supporter of the kinds of immigration reform championed by Biden.
CBP Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz is expected to step into the leadership role on an acting basis while Magnus goes through the Senate confirmation process.
Scott, who had been chief for nearly 18 months, first joined the Border Patrol in 1992 and worked his way up to head of its San Diego sector and then acting deputy chief, according to his bio on the Homeland Security Department website.
Under Scott’s watch, the border patrol handled a record-breaking surge of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, which overwhelmed federal border facilities and forced many children to be placed in shelters.
In recent years, Scott was a leading voice in support of then-President Trump’s call for more miles of border barrier, speaking out against Democrats in Congress who favored other ways of addressing the influx of undocumented immigrants.
I started in the San Diego sector in 1992 and it didn’t matter how many agents we lined up, Scott told National Public Radio in a January 2019 story, while taking a reporter on a ride-along. We could not make a measurable impact on the flow [of undocumented immigrants] across the border. It wasn’t until we installed barriers along the border that gave us the upper hand that we started to get control.
In an undated article on CBP’s own website, Scott described the chaos of working at the border during that first 1992 assignment.
He said thousands of people had lined up and rushed en masse over the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, overwhelming Border Patrol agents and ensuring that most of them got through.
On day one when I showed up to work, Scott added, I saw hundreds of people running up the median of Interstate 5, helicopters buzzing around, and I thought there was some kind of big incident or crisis that day.