Mark A. Morgan

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Mark A. Morgan
Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
In office
July 5, 2019 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyRobert Perez
Preceded byJohn P. Sanders (acting)
Succeeded byTroy A. Miller
Acting Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
In office
May 28, 2019 – July 5, 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byMatthew Albence (acting)
Succeeded byMatthew Albence (acting)
Chief of the United States Border Patrol
In office
October 12, 2016 – January 26, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byRonald Vitiello (acting)
Succeeded byRonald Vitiello
Personal details
EducationUniversity of Central Missouri (BSE)
University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Battles/warsGulf War

Mark A. Morgan (born c. January 1, 1950) is an American law enforcement official who served as the Chief Operating Officer and acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection from July 5, 2019, to January 20, 2021.

Morgan had a long career in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, culminating in appointments as head of the Inspection Division and Training Division. He then served as chief of the United States Border Patrol under President Barack Obama as the first person to be appointed to that post from outside the Border Patrol; he resigned a few days after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Morgan returned to government when he was announced as Trump's pick to be acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where he served from May 28, 2019, until he moved to Customs and Border Protection.

Early life and education[edit]

Morgan was born on January 1, 1950.[1] Morgan received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Central Missouri State University.[2] He joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of 19,[3] and served active duty and in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for a total of 11 years including service at the Gulf War.[2]

Morgan received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law, serving as a deputy sheriff with the Platte County Sheriff's Department in Missouri, and in the Marine Corps Reserve concurrently with his studies.[2][3]


After graduating from law school, Morgan attended the Los Angeles Police Department Academy[3] and served as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.[2][3]


Morgan as FBI Academy head in 2015

Morgan entered on duty as a Special Agent in 1996 and was assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office. While there, he was a member of the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, the Crisis Response Squad, and the Special Weapons and Tactics Team. In 2002, Morgan became a Supervisory Special Agent and served as a Crisis Management Coordinator in the Crisis Management Unit in the Critical Incident Response Group. In 2005, Morgan returned to Los Angeles, where he supervised an FBI-led Hispanic Gang Task Force that focused on the MS-13, and 18th Street gangs. While in Los Angeles, he also supervised the Critical Incident Response Squad, which had administrative and operational oversight of the division's critical incident response resources.[2][3]

In 2007, Morgan became assistant section chief of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime Branch, where he managed the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Units and the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. In 2008, he became the FBI's Deputy On-Scene Commander in Baghdad, Iraq, where he was responsible for all FBI personnel deployed to Iraq under the auspices of the Counterterrorism Division.[2] This was his first deployment to a war zone.[3]

In 2009, Morgan was assigned as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Field Office. In 2010, Morgan became Chief of the FBI Strategic Information and Operations Center.[2] From 2011 to 2013, Morgan served as the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI El Paso Division.[2][3]

During 2013 and 2014, Morgan served as Deputy Assistant Director for the FBI's Inspection Division, which performs compliance and oversight of all FBI operations. In 2014, Morgan served on a detail to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Department of Homeland Security as the Acting Assistant Commissioner for Internal Affairs. In this role, he oversaw the investigation of criminal and serious administrative misconduct by the CBP workforce.[2] Morgan was assigned to this position after the previous Assistant Commissioner, James F. Tomsheck, was removed for failing to investigate allegations of inappropriate use of force by border agents, and CBP head Gil Kerlikowske took the unusual step of requesting an interim appointment from outside the agency to pursue investigations more aggressively.[4]

In 2014, he was appointed Assistant Director of the FBI for the Training Division in Quantico, Virginia, with responsibility for overseeing policy development and delivery of all law enforcement skills and academic programs for the FBI workforce.[2][3]

Department of Homeland Security[edit]

Chief of U.S. Border Patrol[edit]

Morgan in September 2016

In June 2016, he was named as the next chief of the U.S. Border Patrol by the Obama administration, and took command in July.[5] Morgan was the first Chief of the Border Patrol to come from outside the agency, and was intended to be a reformer and increase accountability. The appointment was opposed by the Border Patrol's union, the National Border Patrol Council. His decision to wear the Border Patrol uniform was met with some opposition, as he had never been a Border Patrol officer.[1]

On December 1, 2016, Morgan stated in a Senate hearing that he supported a comprehensive immigration overhaul, which was met with strenuous criticism from the National Border Patrol Council. Morgan subsequently clarified that he did not support "blanket amnesty".[6][7]

On January 26, 2017, just days after President Donald Trump took office, he was forced to resign.[6] He had reportedly desired to stay in his post during the Trump administration, internally criticizing the immigration enforcement policies of the Obama administration after the election.[8]

Gap in government service[edit]

In January 2019, Morgan said that he could determine if an unaccompanied minor would become a member of MS-13, a transnational crime gang known for gruesome violence, just by looking at their eyes.[9]

Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement[edit]

At the end of April 2019, it was reported that Trump was considering Morgan to take over as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency's former acting director, Ronald Vitiello, resigned earlier in April after Trump pulled his nomination for the director's job, telling reporters that he wanted to go with someone "tougher" instead.[10]

On May 5, Trump announced on Twitter that he had chosen Morgan to become the next director of ICE.[11] The Washington Post reported that the announcement "caught White House aides and Homeland Security officials by surprise. They had not been informed Morgan was Trump’s choice, and at ICE, senior leaders learned of the decision from the president’s tweet, according to two senior administration officials."[12] Matthew Albence, who had been acting director of ICE since April 2019 and was previously acting deputy director of the agency, continued in that role until Morgan was formally named acting director on May 28, 2019.[13][14]

He was formally appointed to a newly created position as Principal Deputy Director that outranked the preexisting Deputy Director position. This was criticized as avoiding Senate scrutiny for this position through the normal confirmation process.[15]

U.S. Customs and Border Protection[edit]

Morgan speaks at a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in September 2019

On June 27, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Morgan would become the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, replacing John Sanders, who had announced his resignation. On July 5, 2019, Morgan became acting commissioner.[16][17] His formal appointment was as Chief Operating Officer of the agency.[18] Since his appointment was never confirmed by the Senate and his tenure as acting commissioner exceeded 210 days, he can no longer legally lead the agency. To circumvent the law, his new title is "Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection."[19]

In July 2020, Morgan sent CBP agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear to Portland, Oregon, where federal agents repeatedly used tear gas and projectile munitions on protestors and shot one peaceful protestor in the face, fracturing his face.[20][21] Agents also used unmarked vehicles to detain protestors, without identifying themselves as law enforcement. Legal observers called this "abduction" and "kidnapping".[22] Oregon Governor Kate Brown described the actions as "abuse of power," and accused DHS of "provoking confrontation for political purposes."[20] Portland mayor Ted Wheeler said it was "an attack on our democracy."[20] Morgan alleged the protestors were "violent criminals" and defended the practice of CBP officers having no names on their uniforms.[23][24] The New York Times reported that an internal DHS memo prepared by the top official at DHS prior to the deployment stated that the federal agents in question had not been specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations.[25]

Tom Ridge, the first head of the Department of Homeland Security, sharply criticized the deployment, saying "The department was established to protect America from the ever-present threat of global terrorism. It was not established to be the president's personal militia."[26] Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania, added that he would not have consented, as a governor, to what took place.[26]

Morgan defended the deployment of officers in military-style uniforms and using unmarked vehicles in a press conference on July 21, saying they had identifying numbers on their shoulders.[27] Former Trump administration DHS spokesman Col. David Lapan disputed that the officers were easy to identify.[26]

In September 2020, Morgan made the unsubstantiated claim that "antifa" was sending organized protestors by plane to cities across the United States to incite violence.[28][29] When asked to provide evidence for the assertion, Morgan did not.[29]

Later career[edit]

In February 2021, following the end of the Trump administration, Morgan joined The Heritage Foundation as a visiting fellow and the Federation for American Immigration Reform as a senior fellow.[30][31]


  1. ^ a b Bennett, Brian (October 21, 2016). "An outsider takes charge of the Border Patrol — and yes, he'll wear the green uniform". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Retrieved October 18, 2019. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "To Protect and Serve". UMKC Alumni Association. 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  4. ^ "Border agency removes its own chief of internal affairs". Los Angeles Times. June 10, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  5. ^ "Swearing-In Ceremony United States for Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan | U.S. Customs and Border Protection". Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Spagat, Elliot; Caldwell, Alicia A. (January 26, 2017). "AP source: Border Patrol chief says he's been forced out". AP News. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "Mark Morgan, Border Patrol chief, out a day after Trump border wall decree". CBS News. January 26, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  8. ^ Nixon, Ron (January 26, 2017). "Border Patrol Chief, an Agency Outsider, Is Stepping Down". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  9. ^ Hesson, Ted (May 16, 2019). "Trump's pick for ICE director: I can tell which migrant children will become gang members by looking into their eyes". Politico. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  10. ^ "White House Considering Obama-Era Official for Immigration Job, Sources Say". May 4, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  11. ^ "Trump says Morgan, backer of border wall, to head U.S. immigration..." Reuters. May 5, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Miroff, Nick; Harris, Shane; Dawsey, Josh (May 5, 2019). "Trump taps Mark Morgan, former Obama official who supports border wall, to head ICE". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  13. ^ Aleaziz, Hamed (April 11, 2019). "An ICE Official Who Said Detention Was "More Like Summer Camp" Will Now Lead The Agency". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  14. ^ Sands, Geneva; Kelly, Caroline (May 28, 2019). "Mark Morgan takes over as acting director of ICE". CNN. Retrieved June 15, 2019. Mark Morgan, who President Donald Trump announced earlier this month would lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, took over as acting director of the agency on Tuesday, according to an announcement by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
  15. ^ Hesson, Ted (June 10, 2019). "Cuccinelli starts as acting immigration official despite GOP opposition". Politico. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  16. ^ Radnofsky, Louise (June 27, 2019). "Mark Morgan Named New Acting Chief of Customs and Border Protection". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  17. ^ Klar, Rebecca (June 27, 2019). "Mark Morgan named new acting chief of Customs and Border Protection". The Hill. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  18. ^ "Leadership". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. October 3, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  19. ^ "DHS Official Bio Page for Mark Morgan (archived July 19, 2020)". DHS. Archived from the original on July 19, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Olmos, Sergio; Baker, Mike; Kanno-Youngs, Zolan (July 17, 2020). "Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  21. ^ Crombie, Noelle (July 19, 2020). "Donavan La Bella making 'remarkable' recovery from head injury after being shot by feds with impact munition, sister says". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  22. ^ Wilson, Jonathan Levinson | Conrad. "Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets". Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  23. ^ Morgan, Mark (July 18, 2020). "CBP Mark Morgan". Twitter. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  24. ^ Morgan, Mark (July 17, 2020). "CBP Mark Morgan". Twitter. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  25. ^ Olmos, Sergio; Baker, Mike; Kanno-Youngs, Zolan (July 18, 2020). "Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn't Have Proper Training, D.H.S. Memo Said". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  26. ^ a b c Haberman, Maggie; Corasaniti, Nick; Karni, Annie (February 12, 2021). "As Trump Pushes Into Portland, His Campaign Ads Turn Darker". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  27. ^ Barone, Vincent (July 22, 2020). "Acting DHS, CBP heads defend federal officers in Portland: 'We will not retreat'". New York Post. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  28. ^ "DHS memo told officials to make comments favorable to Kenosha shootings suspect". NBC News. October 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  29. ^ a b "CBP chief has no proof of Antifa protesters on planes, says spokesman". NBC News. September 4, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  30. ^ Shaw, Adam (February 10, 2021). "Former CBP chief Mark Morgan joins Federation for American Immigration Reform". Fox News. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  31. ^ "Mark Morgan", The Heritage Foundation