CBP Chief Chris Magnus has resigned following a conflict with DHS Secretary Meyergas


U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned late Saturday, the White House said in a brief statement, ending a bitter conflict between the nation’s top border official and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorgas.

Mayorkas asked Magnus to step down on Wednesday, but the CBP commissioner refused to go quietly, insisting he would not leave until the White House asked him to.

CBP Commissioner Says He Rejected Homeland Security Secretary’s Resignation Request

The White House said President Biden accepted Magnus’ resignation and praised his “nearly four decades of service and contributions to police reform while serving as police chief in three American cities.”

In a statement to The Washington Post, Magnus said the decision “provides me with an excellent path to advance my commitment to professional, innovative and community-engaged policing.”

The White House released a copy of a letter Magnus wrote thanking Biden for the opportunity to serve him “over the past year.” But Magnus only lasted 11 months on the job. He was confirmed by the Senate last December in a largely party-line vote.

His short tenure is a blow to the Biden administration, which is struggling to balance migration pressures on the southern border with calls from Democrats for meaningful changes to CBP and especially the Border Patrol.

During the Trump administration, the Border Patrol has had the president’s enthusiastic support, but has been accused by immigrant advocates of abusing its authority and turning a blind eye to racism and sexism in its ranks.

The labor union representing Border Patrol agents has cheered Donald Trump’s more restrictive immigration policies and sharply criticized Biden after he began repealing them.

Magnus, 62, Fargo, ND, Richmond, Calif. and Tucson, who built a reputation as a leading law enforcement reformer during his tenure as police chief and was selected to lead the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. He is CBP’s first openly gay commissioner.

Still, Magnus’ aspirations to reform CBP have put him at odds with Mayorkas and senior CBP leaders, who are fighting immigration arrests at the Mexican border.

Among other reform ideas, Magnus said he sought changes to policies governing high-speed vehicles, employee overtime procedures and CBP officer searches of travelers’ cell phones at border crossings. Those efforts stymied, he said.

“I didn’t take this job as a resume builder. “I came to Washington, DC — I moved my family here — because I care about this institution, its mission and the goals of this administration,” Magnus said, defying efforts to oust him.

Magnus said Mayorkas was more attuned to the needs of industry officials dealing with border crises and did not support his reform ideas.

Tensions peaked Wednesday after Magnus traveled to El Paso to attend a meeting of Border Patrol chiefs, according to Magnus. Mayorkas asked him not to go. Magnus asked for his resignation during a video conference, telling Magnus that he and CBP employees had lost confidence in him and that Magnus had disobeyed him by traveling to El Paso.

Deputy CBP Commissioner Troy Miller will serve as the agency’s acting chief, Mayorkas said in an email to CBP employees late Saturday. Miller will direct CBP through most of 2021 as its interim chief.

Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.

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