Former Border Patrol Chief Applauds Reinstatement of Colleague Amid Controversy

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
August 31, 2023Border Security
Former Border Patrol Chief Applauds Reinstatement of Colleague Amid Controversy
Rodney Scott, retired Chief of U.S. Border Patrol and Senior Fellow of border security at Texas PublicPolicy Foundation, in a still released by NTD on May 18, 2023. (NTD)

Former U.S. Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott sang the praises of one of his former colleagues, Gregory Bovino, on Wednesday after Mr. Bovino was briefly pulled from and then restored to his command as the Chief Border Patrol Agent for the El Centro, California Border Sector.

In July, Mr. Bovino was relieved of his command at the El Centro Border Sector and reassigned to a headquarters position in Washington D.C. within hours of testifying before Congress about conditions along the U.S. southern border.

Shortly after Mr. Bovino’s reassignment, House Republican lawmakers raised allegations from Border Patrol insiders that the reassignment had been part of a retaliatory move to pressure Mr. Bovino to leave the government agency.

On Monday, House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) announced Mr. Bovino had been reinstated to his leadership position at the El Centro Border Sector, more than a month after the reassignment controversy began.

“No one could ever identify anything he had done wrong,” Mr. Scott told NTD News host Tiffany Meier. “I know him personally. His integrity is beyond reproach. So his removal was a big deal.”

After Mr. Bovino was initially reassigned from the El Centro Border Sector, Mr. Comer and Mr. Green raised whistleblower allegations that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have used similar reassignment orders as a tactic to punish dissenters within the agency.

For months, Republican lawmakers had sought Mr. Bovino’s testimony about conditions on the border, but Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas appeared to bar Mr. Bovino from attending a February hearing. Mr. Comer and Mr. Green raised allegations that the El Centro Border Patrol chief had been verbally reprimanded for preparing testimony about conditions at the border that “was dissatisfactory to CBP officials.”

Mr. Scott alleged political retaliation is “very pervasive” throughout the Department of Homeland Security and component agencies like CBP. Mr. Scott had served as the top Border Patrol official from January 2020 until June 2021, when he said he was given a “3R” letter informing him that he must either retire, resign, or relocate to a different job within the government.

“I was a victim of [retaliation] early on when I was being reassigned from the chief,” Mr. Scott said. “Again, they couldn’t highlight anything. Backdoor information was that they speculated that we were aligned with the Republican Party just because we told them at the border, if they did the policies they were talking about, the border was going to get out of control, there’s going to be chaos, all of which turned out true.”

Trump at border wall
Then-President Donald Trump speaks with then-Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott (R) as they participate in a ceremony commemorating the 200th mile of border wall at the international border with Mexico in San Luis, Ariz., on June 23, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr. Scott said President Joe Biden’s administration has broadly prohibited CBP and Border Patrol officials from providing much information to the news media.

“They try to very tightly control the messaging, and anybody that actually speaks the truth is potentially suffering retaliation in this administration,” Mr. Scott said.

NTD News reached out to both CBP and the Department of Homeland Security for comment. Neither office responded by the time this article was published.

Skepticism of Biden Admin Border Claims

The Biden administration has phased out the Title 42 pandemic-era border control measures, which had allowed U.S. officials to rapidly expel illegal immigrants arriving at the border. The Biden administration paired the end of Title 42 policies with the rollout of new parole programs to process people arriving at the southern border.

Mr. Mayorkas began claiming significant drops in daily border encounters within days of the Title 42 authorities expiring. In a July interview, Mr. Mayorkas claimed border officials have seen an approximately 65 percent drop in the number of people encountered at the border since Title 42.

According to CBP records, there were about 212,000 border encounters in April, the last full month Title 42 authorities were in place. That number fell to about 207,000 encounters in May, with Title 42 authorities ending on May 11. By June, the first month without Title 42 policies in place, the number of border encounters CBP recorded fell to around 145,000. In July, the number of reported encounters rose once more to about 184,000.

Mr. Scott urged skepticism over how Biden administration officials have presented border encounter statistics in recent months.

“Stop listening to how this administration picks one or two numbers and then spins it and tries to say the border’s secure,” he said.

NTD Photo
Illegal immigrants wait to be taken by Border Patrol to a processing facility to begin their asylum-seeking process in Eagle Pass, Texas, on June 25, 2023. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers have also urged skepticism of how the Biden administration describes the influx of people coming to the United States, claiming the administration has simply changed how it reports illegal crossings while incentivizing would-be illegal crossers to simply apply for parole to enter the United States.

“The numbers of human beings crossing into America without appropriate documentation are indeed still at the record levels that we saw prior to the end of Title 42—it’s the classification of those human beings and the way they’re brought into the country that are cleverly changed by the administration,” Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) said in June.

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