WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday named U.S. Border Patrol veteran Jason Owens to head the agency, replacing outgoing chief Raul Ortiz.
In a statement announcing Owens’ promotion, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, “Chief Owens is a talented, selfless and inspirational leader who is dedicated to the law enforcement mission of the patrol. border, to the men and women who fill it and to the country we all serve.
“I am inspired by his commitment to mission and grateful for his continued service in this new leadership role,” Mayorkas added.
The New York Times reported that Owens had been with the Border Patrol for more than 20 years, most recently as chief of the Del Rio division in Texas.
Ortiz said last month in a memo to staff obtained by The Associated Press that he would be leaving on June 30.
Ortiz managed Border Patrol and its approximately 20,000 officers during the COVID-19 pandemic and Title 42 emergency health restrictions that began in March 2020 and allowed officers to quickly return migrants through the southern border.
He also oversaw the rollout of new policies on May 11 aimed at discouraging migrants from crossing illegally while opening up other legal routes. The number of crossings has plummeted and the border has not seen the high number of crossings or the chaos anticipated even by President Joe Biden with the end of restrictions.