Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned this past weekend, days after he had apparently been asked by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to step down but refused to do so. On Saturday, Magnus said he would be leaving, various news outlets reported.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden had accepted the resignation “and appreciates Commissioner Magnus’ nearly forty years of service and the contributions he made to police reform during his tenure as police chief in three U.S. cities.”
Magnus, a former Tucson police chief and the agency’s first openly gay commissioner, served just under a year and had been confirmed in a nearly party line vote. While no reason was given for the resignation, speculation that Magnus may have been pushed out by internal hostility wouldn’t be totally out of the question.
The Border Patrol’s union made its first ever endorsement in 2016 for the insurrectionist president, and endorsed him again in 2020. The union’s president, Brandon Judd, is an active border agent who has promoted racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, and is a fervent GOP operative, appearing in numerous campaign ads for Republicans. People within the government have also been leaking stuff to right-wing rags like Breitbart from the start of the administration.
“On Twitter, [Magnus] has been vocal on about immigration issues, writing that Title 42, a measure instituted during the Trump administration that allows border agents to quickly turn back migrants, ‘comes at a heavy cost to many asylum seekers,’” The Los Angeles Times reported. “After criticism about offensive humor within the ranks, including Facebook posts that made fun of dead migrants and lawmakers, Magnus has clamped down on social media activity.”
Following a push from immigrant and human rights advocates, Magnus also signed the May 2022 memo eliminating the corrupt units that have for years colluded to cover up horrific abuses committed by Border Patrol agents. Following a surge of deaths related to vehicle pursuits by border agents, Magnus also said updated policy would be released, but nothing has been made public so far. CBP this past summer also completed its probe into the abuses of Haitian migrants at Del Rio, but many were outraged after the report revealed that not one single victim was interviewed by investigators.
“@CBPChrisMagnus and I may not see eye-to-eye on everything, but I know this: he is one of few actually attempting to reform #BorderPatrol,” tweeted Alliance San Diego Executive Director Andrea Guerrero following initial reports that he’d been asked to leave. “Calls for his resignation from the @AliMayorkas and @POTUS to protect BP is deeply concerning.” Jenn Budd, a former senior Border Patrol agent turned whistleblower, tweeted that “[w]atching @SecMayorkas get railroaded by @BPUnion is frightening. Magnus was the only official trying to bring accountability.”
In a tweet, the Border Patrol union said Magnus “deserved to be fired. As a crisis rages at our border he focused on imaginary BP ‘culture’ problems instead of enforcing our laws.” Ah, so abusive agents who want to starve brown babies (remember that?), who mock the deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody, and who share Stephen Miller’s world views are an “imaginary” problem. Got that, folks?
Republicans had already made it clear that Mayorkas is at the top of the list of Biden administration officials they’ve targeted should they take control of the U.S. House, which continues to hang in the air following the 2022 midterms. These Republicans repeatedly cite people arriving at the southern border in search of safety. But what they never cite is how the anti-asylum Title 42 has actually created a rise in apprehensions.