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Border Patrol chief Carla Provost, first woman to lead agency, to step down

Provost's departure after 2½ years adds to the growing list of top Homeland Security jobs that are either vacant or filled by acting officials.
Image: Carla Provost
Carla Provost, then the acting chief of U.S. Border Patrol, is sworn in at an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2018.Allison Shelley / Reuters file

Carla Provost, one of the longer-serving members of President Donald Trump's administration, is stepping down as chief of U.S. Border Patrol, a spokesperson for the agency said Tuesday.

There was no immediate indication who will replace Provost, a 25-year veteran who is the first woman to lead the agency, officials said. Her departure was first reported by the Washington Examiner.

Border Patrol, the law enforcement arm of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is part of the Department of Homeland Security. A Homeland Security official speaking on background described Provost's exit as "pretty simple," saying it was related to her having become eligible to retire.

Provost, 50, became acting chief in April 2017, when Chief Ron Vitiello became acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. She became permanent chief in August 2018.

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Last summer, Provost condemned racist posts about migrants that were made public after having been posted on a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents, calling them "completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out."

Provost said in congressional testimony in July that she joined the group in 2017 and that she had been one of the group's thousands of members, saying she "didn't think anything of it at the time" because she rarely used Facebook.

She said that when she learned of the racist posts, she immediately self-reported her membership to internal investigators and "turned my entire Facebook account over."

"I gave them my log-in and my password," she said.

Border Patrol chief becomes one of at least 14 top Homeland Security positions that remain vacant or are occupied by acting officials, beginning at the top with Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security.