Trump Critic Tapped to Lead Customs and Border Protection

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, has been chosen to lead a key border agency.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus speaks during a press conference last June. (Josh Galemore/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden on Monday nominated the chief of police for Arizona’s second largest city to lead a key Department of Homeland Security division.

The White House announced that the president will nominate Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to be commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, alongside five other nominees for Department of Homeland Security positions. They must be confirmed by the Senate before they can start in their new roles.

Magnus, who currently leads a police department in a city of 541,000 people, began his law enforcement career as an officer in Lansing, Michigan, and then served as the police chief for Fargo, North Dakota. Following those roles, he led the police force in Richmond, California, where he was sued for racial discrimination. The parties settled outside of court before a jury could resolve the dispute. He also faced criticism over the death of a civilian in Tucson police custody last year, even going so far as to offer his resignation. He ultimately stayed on as chief.

Magnus has been a vocal opponent of the immigration policies of former President Donald Trump. He wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in 2017 in which he railed against the Trump administration’s plan to deny some federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Courts across the country ruled the policy was illegal.

The nomination comes at a time of increased traffic at the U.S-Mexico border, with CBP apprehending over 168,000 migrants last month. Nearly 19,000 children traveling alone crossed the Mexico border and turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents in March.

Republicans say Biden has created a crisis by allowing children to enter the country, but the president noted in his first press conference in March that the percent of immigrants entering the U.S. was actually higher under Trump. In 2019, there was a 31% increase in immigrants seeking refuge in the U.S., while that total has dropped to a 28% increase during Biden’s first few months in office.

Biden has partially reversed the Trump-era policy to immediately remove people entering the U.S. illegally over Covid-19 concerns, and did away with the last administration’s controversial policy of making immigrants wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are pending.

The president also has signaled disinterest in continuing other immigration-related fights forwarded by the Trump administration. Last month, the Justice Department withdrew from a Supreme Court battle over enforcement of the so-called public charge rule for green card applicants. Under that rule, applicants had to prove they are not likely to become dependent on government benefits. The policy was blocked by a New York federal judge in 2019.

Other Homeland Security appointments announced by the Biden administration on Monday include John Tien, a member of former President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, to serve as deputy secretary for DHS. Jen Easterly, head of firm resilience and the Fusion Reliance Center at Morgan Stanley and an Army veteran, has been tapped to direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

In addition, Ur Jaddou has been nominated as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Jonathan Meyer has been chosen as general counsel for DHS and Robert Silvers as under secretary for strategy.

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