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. which was asked to withdraw from the Department of Homeland Security chiefs, who are disillusioned with his leadership.

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In a brief resignation letter to Mr. Biden, Magnus, who earned 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 honor” to serve in the administration.

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“I am submitting my resignation effective immediately, but I wish you and your administration the best going forward. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity,” Magnus wrote.

Chris Magnus
in 2021 October 19 Dirksen’s Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. in 2021. October 19 Chris Magnus, then nominee for commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing.

WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 19: US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus, a candidate for US President Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on October 1 in Washington.


White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that the president had accepted Magnus’ resignation, one of the most high-profile departures of the Biden administration, and would 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 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 came just a day after it was revealed that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayork had lost confidence in his ability to lead CBP at a time when the agency was struggling to respond to a record number of migrant harassments at the US-Mexico border.

But Magnus told multiple news outlets on Friday that he has no plans to resign, 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 began, Magnus had already been suspended from CBP, and career officer Troy Miller was placed in charge of the agency’s day-to-day operations. .

While DHS leaders had concerns about Magnus and his ability to lead CBP, a senior department official cited Magnus’ difficult relationship with the Border Patrol, the agency responsible for apprehending and processing migrants entering the United States illegally.

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

“At one point, it became very clear to me that some of the top leadership at DHS didn’t understand what law enforcement reform looked like,” Magnus told the newspaper.

In a message to CBP employees late Saturday that Magnus had left the department, Mayork said Miller, a career agency official, would become acting commissioner, a role he held in the early days of the Biden administration.

“We are grateful to Commissioner Magnus for his contributions over the past year and wish him well,” Mayorkas 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 the entry of illegal drugs and goods, and disrupting terrorist plots.

The agency’s resources have been severely strained over the past two years due to a sharp increase in illegal migration along the southern border. In fiscal year 2022, the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, CBP officers processed migrants at the Mexican border nearly 2.4 million times, an all-time high.

The record high number included many repeat migrants sent to Mexico, as well as more than 1 million expedited deportations under the Trump-era public health restriction known as Title 42. But the unprecedented episode of migration was nevertheless terrifying. humanitarian and operational challenges for CBP, as well as a political headache for the Biden administration.

Republican lawmakers have blamed the Biden administration for the migrant crisis, saying tougher Trump administration policies changed over the past two years should be rolled back to discourage migrants from coming to the United States.

While migration flows may be influenced by U.S. policy or perceptions, pandemic-era economic woes in Latin America, mass emigration from countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua with authoritarian governments and labor needs in the U.S. have also contributed to the unprecedented events. the number of migrants arriving along the US border in recent months.

To interview Magnus told CBS News in August that crises around the world have led desperate migrants to reach the US border in record numbers.

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

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