EDINBURG — Less than a year into his post as U.S. Border Patrol deputy chief patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley, Austin L. Skero II is moving “upriver” to take over as Chief Patrol Agent in the Del Rio sector, according to a release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
Skero was named deputy chief patrol agent of the Rio Grande Valley sector in late September 2019, during a large influx of migrants and asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Skero coincidently is taking over for Raul Ortiz, who Skero replaced as the RGV deputy chief patrol agent after Ortiz left for Del Rio sector to take over as chief patrol agent — the spot Skero is now taking over.
Ortiz, who worked in the Valley for more than five years, was recognized by the president during the State of the Union Address in February after being named deputy chief of the Border Patrol in late January.
During his time in the Valley, beginning in October 2019, through the end of May, under Skero, agents apprehended a total of 53,322 single adults, family units and unaccompanied minor children, according to statistics reported by CBP.
Most recently, due to COVID-19, apprehensions have fallen by more than 60% in nearly all sectors compared with the same time last year. In part, the decrease in apprehensions is a result of a change in policy beginning in March when CBP stated it would not detain all migrants caught at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Instead agents were only detaining immigrants with a prior criminal history and releasing those who did not fit that criteria.
The new chief of the Del Rio sector has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience and was part of a Border Patrol Academy 279 in 1995 at the Brownsville station, according to the release. Skero spent four years in Brownsville before moving to west Texas.
The release states Skero also worked in Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota and Washington, and served as a deputy sheriff in central Texas.
Skero earned the Border Patrol’s award for valor — the Newton-Azrak Award.
“Being back in RGV Sector has been an absolute privilege,” Skero said in a prepared release. “The employees, people and partnerships here in the Valley are exceptional and I will miss the area greatly. I’m not moving far though, just a bit upriver to Del Rio, so I’ll be stopping in from time to time and staying in touch with the many friends I have made here.”