Biden accepts resignation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus

Washington — President Biden on Saturday accepted the resignation of his administration’s Senate-confirmed Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus. who had been asked to resign from Department of Homeland Security leaders who were unhappy with his leadership.

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In a brief resignation letter to Mr. Biden, Magnus, who had built a reputation as a progressive law enforcement reformer as police chief in Tucson, Arizona, Richmond, California and Fargo, North Dakota, said it had been a “privilege and an honor” to serve in the department.

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“I am submitting my resignation with immediate effect, but I wish you and your administration all the best in your future endeavors. Thank you again for this tremendous opportunity,” Magnus wrote.

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Chris Magnus
FILE – Chris Magnus, then-designate for commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on Oct. 19, 2021.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 19: US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus, a running mate for US President Joe Biden, speaks at a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington on October.


White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre confirmed the president has accepted Magnus’ resignation, one of the Biden administration’s most high-profile departures, and will once again leave the largest federal law enforcement agency without Senate-confirmed leadership.

“President Biden appreciates Commissioner Magnus’ nearly four decades of service and his contributions to police reform while serving as police chief in three US cities,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “The President thanks Mr. Magnus for his service to CBP and wishes him well.”

Magnus’ resignation comes just a day after it was revealed that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorca has lost confidence in his ability to lead CBP at a time when the agency is struggling to respond to a record number of migrant apprehensions at the US-Mexico border.

However, Magnus told multiple news outlets on Friday that he has no intention of resigning, saying he is focused on reforming CBP, which has drawn progressive criticism for years over its treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.

Before the infighting became public, Magnus had already been sidelined at CBP, with Troy Miller, a career official, in charge of running day-to-day operations at the agency, said a senior DHS official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters. .

While DHS leaders have repeatedly raised concerns about Magnus and his ability to lead CBP, a senior department official cited Magnus’ strained relationship with the Border Patrol, the agency responsible for apprehending and processing migrants who enter the U.S. illegally.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Magnus defended his leadership, saying his efforts to reform the Border Patrol have met with resistance.

“At one point, it became so clear to me that some of DHS’s top leaders didn’t understand what reform even looked like in a law enforcement organization,” Magnus told the newspaper.

In a message late Saturday in which CBP officials said Magnus had left the department, Mayorkas said Miller, a career agency official, would become acting commissioner, a position he held in the early days of the Biden administration.

“We are grateful to Commissioner Magnus for his contributions this past year and wish him the best of luck,” Mayorka said in a statement obtained by CBS News.

With more than 60,000 employees, CBP is responsible for stopping migrants entering the United States illegally, facilitating legal trade and travel, preventing illegal drugs and goods from entering the country, and disrupting terrorist plots.

Over the past two years, the agency’s resources have been strained by a sharp increase in unauthorized migration along the southern border. In fiscal year 2022, during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, CBP officers processed migrants at the Mexican border nearly 2.4 million times, an all-time high.

The record high included a significant number of re-crossings by migrants who were deported to Mexico, as well as more than 1 million expedited deportations of migrants under the Trump-era public health restriction known as Section 42. But the unprecedented episode of migration has nevertheless produced dire results. humanitarian and operational problems for CBP, as well as political headaches for Mr. Biden’s administration.

Republican lawmakers blame the Biden administration for the migrant crisis, saying the Trump administration’s tougher policies, reversed over the past two years, should be reinstated to deter migrants from coming to the United States.

While migration flows may be influenced by US policy or perceptions, pandemic-era economic problems in Latin America, mass exodus from countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua with authoritarian governments and labor demands in the US have also contributed to the unprecedented situation. the number of migrants who have arrived along the US border in recent months.

In an interview With CBS News in August, Magnus said crises around the world have prompted desperate migrants to head to the U.S. border in record numbers.

“Other countries have unprecedented levels of cartel and gang violence, political upheaval. People are really at risk. Some of them really (face) such danger to their families, to themselves, that they see no alternative but to flee,” he said.

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