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U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz announces retirement amid migration crisis

The CBP chief notified the Biden administration of his resignation during a time of tension between the federal agency and the White House

A U.S. Customs Border Patrol agent scans an area into Mexico while searching for potential border crossers
A U.S. Customs Border Patrol agent scans an area into Mexico while searching for potential border crossers | U.S. Customs Border Patrol

June 1, 2023 8:19am

Updated: June 1, 2023 8:27am

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz on Tuesday announced his plans to retire in June, despite tensions at the border. 

Ortiz, who manages the law enforcement agency of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told his colleagues about his decision in a note. His resignation will be effective Friday, June 30. 

After joining the Border Patrol in the 90s, Ortiz was appointed to the position in 2021, managing almost 20,000 Border Patrol agents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and Title 42 immigration restrictions. 

It has "been one of the greatest honors and privileges," he said in the note. 

"I leave at ease, knowing we have a tremendous uniformed and professional workforce, strong relationships with our union partners, and outstanding leaders who will continue to tirelessly advocate for you each day," Ortiz added.

Ortiz is known for being vocal about the struggle that the Biden administration is facing while attempting to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. In March, he participated in a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, where he was asked "Does DHS have operational control of our entire border?"

"No, sir," Ortiz said. 

"Chief Ortiz is a true leader. I have benefited greatly from his partnership, expertise, wise counsel, and friendship over the years," Miller said. "Every single day, he champions the men and women of the Border Patrol and has worked tirelessly to ensure that they have the tools, resources, and support they need to do their jobs,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller about Ortiz’s retirement. 

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Ortiz’s work as the Border Patrol Chief.  

"Selecting him to lead the Border Patrol was among the most important decisions I have made," Mayorkas said. "Chief Ortiz agreed to postpone his retirement several times since and the Border Patrol, the Department, and our country have been all the better for it."

In recent years, Border Patrol agents have faced record numbers of undocumented migrants attempting to cross the border. In Fiscal Year 2022, the agency recorded 2.2 million migrant apprehensions, breaking all previous records. 

It is not immediately clear who will assume the position once Ortiz retires.