Rodney Scott has been named head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Scott will replace Carla Provost, who is retiring, the Associated Press reports. Scott has worked for the agency for 27 years. He takes over the agency at a critical time. The Border Patrol’s 19,000 agents have been under a constant spotlight. Curbing immigration is one of President Donald Trump’s top priorities. The agency has come under fire for running crowded stations where migrants were held for long periods as border crossings surged and the immigration system is clogged. Agents pleaded for help, but it wasn’t until last summer, when reports of squalid conditions and surging numbers of detainees and children dying were published, that Congress authorized additional funding.
Over the year ending Sept. 30, there were 859,510 apprehensions by the Border Patrol, plus 110,000 encounters of people who tried to enter the U.S. legally but were deemed inadmissible. There were nearly 1 million crossings in the early 2000s, but those were mostly single men from Mexico who were easily returned, not families from Central America who require much more care. The numbers have declined precipitously, in part because of a policy that began last year forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico instead of the U.S. More than 50,000 people have been returned over the border. Scott, who was raised in Nogales, Az., where his father commuted to work at a Mexican factory, demonstrates ease before television cameras and with journalists.