US Border Chief Quits Amid Tension Over Migrant Crossings

The CBP saw a record 2.7 million border apprehensions over the past fiscal year

US Border Patrol agents prepare to go into the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas.
By Justin Sink
November 13, 2022 | 12:35 PM

Bloomberg — The commissioner of Customs Border Protection resigned Saturday after saying he had been pressured to step down by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas amid a record number of migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border.

“The President has accepted the resignation of Christopher Magnus, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. Biden appreciates Magnus’s almost 40 years of service and contributions to police reform as police chief in three US cities, she said.

Jean-Pierre earlier in the week declined to comment when Magnus told the Washington Post he had refused Mayorkas’s request to resign a day after the midterm elections, saying the president retained confidence in the CBP leader.

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The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on how the situation changed.

Magnus described a series of disputes with Mayorkas -- who oversees CBP -- in an interview with the Post, and said he had traveled to El Paso for a meeting with Border Patrol sector chiefs despite being told not to attend. He maintained that he didn’t intend to quit and remained committed to the agency, a calculus that apparently changed.

“I didn’t take this job as a resume builder,” Magnus told the newspaper on Friday, saying he came to Washington because he cared about CBP’s mission and the Biden administration’s goals.

Biden nominated Magnus in April 2021, and he was the first Senate-confirmed leader of the agency since 2019. His party-line confirmation fanned hopes among Democrats that he could reorient an agency that had adopted stringent enforcement techniques during the Trump administration.

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But CBP saw a record 2.7 million border apprehensions over the past fiscal year, leading some Republicans and the union that represents Border Patrol agents to criticize his tenure.

Magnus’s standing was further hurt by an October story in Politico where critics described him as disengaged and said he occasionally fell asleep in meetings. Magnus has said he suffers from fatigue as a side effect of multiple sclerosis.

Magnus, who previously served as chief of police in Tucson, Arizona, was the border patrol’s first openly gay leader.

In a letter to the president, he gave no reason for resigning.

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

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