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Biden administration taps new Border Patrol head; other Homeland Security vacancies still unfilled

The Biden administration has selected a new head for the Border Patrol. The appointment comes after Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz announced his upcoming retirement. 

Customs and Border Protection says Ortiz’s position will be taken over by Jason Owens, a career Border Patrol agent who currently heads the Del Rio sector. He’ll take over the national role at the end of this month.

Unlike some other leadership roles, Border Patrol chiefs don’t need to be approved by a Senate vote. But Ortiz’s retirement comes as other key positions within Homeland Security are shifting. 

Earlier this month, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tae Johnson announced he’s also leaving his post. ICE hasn’t had a Senate-approved leader since 2017.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.