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Woman in Charge at Border Patrol Hopes to See More in Ranks

With Christine Davis, the first woman to graduate from the academy, looking on, Ms. Provost said the Border Patrol had come a long way since women joined its ranks in 1975. However, the agency has historically struggled to recruit female agents. When Ms. Provost joined, women made up just 5 percent of all agents. It’s the same today: about 939 women out of 18,276 total agents.

Still, Marlene Castro, a 20-year veteran of the Border Patrol, who attended the event, said the elevation of Ms. Provost to the top job should signal that women can thrive there.

“Just seeing the chief up there, you know that there is no glass ceiling at the Border Patrol,” said Ms. Castro, who is based in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. “It’s an incredible day and age at the Border Patrol.”

Ms. Provost, who had been the agency’s deputy chief, got the top job after a management shake-up. Less than a week after President Trump took office, Mark Morgan, a former F.B.I. agent, was forced out after four months as the Border Patrol chief. The Border Patrol union, the National Border Patrol Council, which had supported Mr. Trump’s bid for the presidency, had often clashed with Mr. Morgan, the first chief who had not served in the agency.

Ronald D. Vitiello, who was named to replace Mr. Morgan, was later promoted to acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol.

The union applauded the promotion of Ms. Provost, noting her long service as a Border Patrol agent.

Ms. Provost, a former police officer in her native Kansas, rose quickly through the ranks of the Border Patrol. After her first few years as an agent in Douglas, she was promoted to a supervisory position. She served in a number of senior positions in Yuma, Ariz., and later El Paso.

In January 2013, she was made responsible for all operations in the agency’s El Centro Sector, in Southern California, a 70-mile stretch of border east of San Diego in the Imperial Valley and one of the most highly active areas for drug smuggling.

By September 2015, she was promoted to deputy assistant commissioner of the Office of Professional Responsibility, overseeing the agency’s efforts to root out corruption in its ranks. Under the Bush administration, the force grew rapidly, doubling its agent ranks from 9,200 to about 18,000. But in the rapid growth, the Border Patrol hired a number of people who took bribes and engaged in drug smuggling.

When the Border Patrol was created in 1924, its mission was restricting the flow of illegal immigration and contraband. Over the years, its mission expanded to include combating bootleggers and later drug cartels and terrorist groups.

Despite the additional duties, the Border Patrol was a largely understaffed backwater. When Ms. Provost joined the agency in 1995, it was part of the Justice Department and had fewer than 5,000 agents patrolling both borders. Today, nearly 20,000 agents patrol, with about 18,000 on the southwest border.

Continue reading the main storySource: New York Times – Politics

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