Mark Morgan takes over as acting director of ICE

Mark Morgan, who President Donald Trump announced earlier this month would lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, took over as acting director of the agency on Tuesday, according to an announcement by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

Morgan left his position as head of Border Patrol in January 2017, shortly after Trump signed a pair of executive orders strengthening border security and stepping up immigration enforcement.

He has since emerged as a vocal proponent of the President’s efforts to build a border wall, appearing on several news outlets to defend the national emergency declaration Trump tried to use as a vehicle for wall funding in February. He told CNN’s Ana Cabrera at the time that Trump had no other option but to declare a national emergency to procure border wall funding because “Congress failed.”

In the announcement Tuesday, McAleenan lauded Morgan for his experience in law enforcement, not only leading Border Patrol but also previously rising in the FBI and serving as a Marine.

“During our previous work together, Mark proved that he is firmly committed to our national security and public safety missions, and he is well-prepared to provide strong leadership to ICE in the face of numerous challenges, including the current humanitarian and national security crisis at our southern border,” McAleenan wrote.

Trump announced Morgan as his choice via tweet earlier this month, praising him as “a true believer and American Patriot.”

“I am pleased to inform all of those that believe in a strong, fair and sound Immigration Policy that Mark Morgan will be joining the Trump Administration as the head of our hard working men and women of ICE,” the President tweeted at the time. “Mark is a true believer and American Patriot. He will do a great job!”

ICE leadership had no advance notice of the White House’s announcement, a senior DHS official told CNN at the time. A few days prior to the President’s announcement, Morgan had told Fox’s Lou Dobbs in an interview that “no one from the White House has called me or asked me or had a conversation at all at any level,” though he added that he’d “say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat.”

Morgan’s ascension to the role is seen as a win for McAleenan. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that McAleenan had threatened to step down after White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller advised a different pick for Morgan’s job — another instance of Miller causing tension with his far-reaching influence as a counselor to Trump on immigration matters.

CNN’s Sarah Westwood and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.