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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-appointed Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus. who was asked by Department of Homeland Security leaders frustrated with his leadership to resign.

In a brief letter of resignation to Mr. Biden, Magnus, who had earned a reputation as a progressive law enforcement reformer as police chief in Tucson, Ariz., Richmond, Calif., and Fargo, North Dakota, said it was a “privilege and honor” in the to serve administration.

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

Chris Magnus
FILE – Chris Magnus, then nominee for commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington DC on October 19, 2021.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 19: Chris Magnus, commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection nominee for US President Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington DC on October 19, 2020

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

“President Biden appreciates the nearly forty years of Commissioner Magnus’ service and the contributions he has made to police reform during his tenure as police chief in three U.S. cities,” Jean-Pierre said in her statement. “The President thanks Mr. Magnus for his service at CBP and wishes him well.”

Magnus’ resignation comes just a day after it was revealed that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had lost confidence in his ability to run CBP at a time when the agency was struggling to respond to record numbers of migrant arrests along the border between the US and Mexico to respond.

However, Magnus hinted to multiple news outlets on Friday that he has no intention of stepping down, saying he is focused on reforming the CBP, which has drawn increasing criticism over its treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers for years.

Before the internal conflict became public, Magnus had already been sidelined at CBP, with Troy Miller, a career official tasked with running the agency’s day-to-day operations, according to a senior DHS official who requested anonymity to discuss internal matters .

While there were several concerns among DHS executives about Magnus and his ability to run CBP, the senior department official cited Magnus’ strained relationship with the Border Patrol, the agency responsible for apprehending and treating migrants illegally entering the United States enter.

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

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

In a message late Saturday notifying CBP employees that Magnus had left the department, Mayorkas said Miller, the careers agency official, would become acting commissioner, a position he previously held in the early days of the Biden administration held.

“We are grateful to Commissioner Magnus for his contributions over the past year and wish him well,” Mayorkas said in a CBS News statement.

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

In the past two years, a sharp increase in illegal migration along the southern border has strained the agency’s resources. In fiscal year 2022, a 12-month period ended Sept. 30, CBP officials along the Mexico border processed migrants nearly 2.4 million times, an all-time high.

The record number included a significant number of repeat crossings by migrants who were deported to Mexico, as well as over 1 million quick deportations of migrants handled under a Trump-era public health restriction known as Title 42. But the unprecedented migration episode has nonetheless left a bleak humanitarian and operational challenge for CBP, as well as a political headache for Mr. Biden’s administration.

Republican lawmakers have blamed the Biden administration for the migrant crisis and said the Trump administration’s tougher policies, which have been reversed over the past two years, should be reinstated to discourage migrants from entering the United States

While migratory flows can be influenced by US policies or perceptions of them, the economic woes of the pandemic era in Latin America, a mass exodus from countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua with authoritarian governments, and labor demands in the US have also contributed to the unprecedented number of migrant arrivals along the US border in recent months.

in the an interview Speaking to CBS News in August, Magnus said crises around the world had prompted desperate migrants to travel to the US border in record numbers.

“There is an unprecedented level of cartel and gang violence in other countries, political upheaval. People are at real risk. Some of them are really (facing) such a danger to their families and themselves that they see no alternative but to flee,” he said.

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