U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello said Thursday he has noticed a new optimism in the agency's 60,000 employees as a result of President Trump's strong support for the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement his first year in office.
"There has been a great uplift in morale starting with Secretary Kelly, continuing through his replacement with Secretary Nielsen," Vitiello, also the chief of Border Patrol, told reporters in San Antonio, Texas.
In September 2016, two government surveys found DHS was rated the worst place to work in the federal government when it comes to employee engagement job satisfaction.
By last February, just a month into Trump's administration, the tide was beginning to turn as the Republican president had begun ordering reversals of former President Barack Obama's nonenforcement policies.
At Trump's one-year mark, a senior National Border Patrol Council official said morale was "probably as low as it could get" under Obama.
"I think part of the improvement has been that we have an administration that clearly supports what we do, and that's been a great improvement, but there are still issues within the agency that are gonna take a while for us to get through," Jon Anfinson, president of Local 2366 in the NBPC, testified in January. "The agency is starting to pay more attention to morale, but we're still seeing issues in the field where there are managers who feel that it's just not their job to be worried about that."