Border Patrol Chief Reinstated After His Ouster Sparked Retaliation Claims
Border Patrol Chief Reinstated After His Ouster Sparked Retaliation Claims

By Ryan Morgan

A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been reinstated to his post as the chief of the El Centro, California border sector more than a month after Republican lawmakers raised the prospect that he was the target of political retaliation.

On Monday, House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) announced that Gregory Bovino was allowed to return to his post as the chief patrol agent for the El Centro Sector.

Mr. Bovino had served as the top Border Patrol agent at the El Centro Sector since 2020 but was removed from the post last month and reassigned to a headquarters position.

The timing of Mr. Bovino’s reassignment raised suspicion among some Republicans as it came within hours of him testifying before Congress about security conditions along the U.S. southern border.

In a letter (pdf) to acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Troy Miller last month, Mr. Comer and Mr. Green shared allegations from a whistleblower that Mr. Bovino’s new assignment is “one of no certain mission, no articulable purpose, and without any timeline of completion.”

“The whistleblower further alleges that this practice is consistent with the way in which CBP officials have dealt with employees who they wish to leave the agency, by placing maximum pressure on them to relocate, retire, or resign,” the Republican lawmakers added in their July letter.

Mr. Comer and Mr. Green celebrated the apparent reversal in CBP decision-making that allowed Mr. Bovino to return to his post at the El Centro Sector.

“We congratulate Chief Bovino on his rightful reinstatement as Chief Patrol Agent for the El Centro Sector and look forward to his continued dedicated leadership with Border Patrol,” the Republican lawmakers said in a Monday press statement.

“The credible and unacceptable allegations of retaliation against Chief Bovino for simply shining a light on the Biden administration’s historic border crisis confirms the importance of our Committees’ crucial oversight effort on behalf of the American people. Any retaliation against witnesses who cooperate with Congressional inquiries will not be tolerated.”

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent at the U.S. Border Patrol Calexico Station in Calexico, Calif., April 5, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Testimony Battle

Mr. Bovino was one of several Border Patrol sector chiefs invited to testify at a House Oversight Committee hearing earlier this year, but Mr. Comer accused Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of blocking some of the Border Patrol officials from doing so. Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol Chief Gloria Chavez and Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin did testify, but Mr. Bovino and others did not appear at the hearing.

“It is unfortunate that you are trying to prevent the American people from hearing candid and truthful testimony of U.S. Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agents,” Mr. Comer wrote in a Jan. 27 letter (pdf) to Mr. Mayorkas. “This is necessary oversight, which you and your Department are attempting to block.”

After Mr. Bovino and other Border Patrol officials were blocked from attending the Feb. 7 hearing, Mr. Comer sent a letter (pdf) to Mr. Miller, requesting that he help facilitate interview times for Mr. Bovino and the other Border Patrol officials. Mr. Bovino appeared before Congress for a transcribed interview on July 12, shortly before he was informed that he would be reassigned from the El Centro Sector.

In their letter to the CBP, Mr. Comer and Mr. Green alleged that, as they sought Mr. Bovino’s testimony before Congress, the Border Patrol agent “may have produced written testimony in preparation for this hearing that was dissatisfactory to CBP officials: so much so that he was verbally reprimanded by headquarters officials.”

The Republican lawmakers asked Mr. Miller about the decision to reassign Mr. Bovino, specifically requesting all documents and communications—including those involving the Department of Homeland Security or White House officials—pertaining to whether or not Mr. Bovino could testify before Congress. The Republican lawmakers also asked for internal CBP documents detailing reasons for reassigning Mr. Bovino.

It’s not clear whether Mr. Miller provided the documents Mr. Comer and Mr. Green had requested.

NTD News reached out to CBP for comment but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

From NTD News

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