US Homeland Security Secretary Asks Customs & Border Patrol Commissioner to Resign

“Socalj” for Borderland Beat
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus to resign this week, according to a source familiar with the discussions. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Magnus said he planned to stay in the agency. “I am excited about the progress I made and look forward to continuing that work,” he said.
On Wednesday, Mayorkas told Magnus he had lost confidence in Magnus in a conversation between the two. The meeting came after the commissioner had decided to not continue a “retention” bonus for the head of Border Patrol, Raul Ortiz. Magnus had told Mayorkas previously that Ortiz did not share his philosophy and approach to reforms.

On Tuesday, Magnus had also gone to a meeting of border patrol chiefs in El Paso after Mayorkas had ordered him not to, Magnus said. “After me making extensive attempts to reach [Mayorkas] and discuss the matter, I went to the meeting so I could engage with the chiefs on various issues and concerns. I also met with Chief Ortiz to see how we might best work together moving forward,” he said.

In the meeting with Mayorkas on Wednesday, Magnus was told to resign or Mayorkas would recommend to President Biden that he be fired, Mangus said. Then, on Thursday, John Tien, the second in command at DHS, also told Magnus that he should resign or he would be fired within the next few days, he said.

“I expressed to him that I felt there was no justification for me to resign when I still cared deeply about the work I was doing and felt that that work was focused on the things I was hired to do in the first place,” Magnus said. CNN has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and the White House for comment. President Joe Biden tapped Magnus, who served as police chief in Tucson, Arizona, to helm CBP – the largest federal law enforcement agency and the second-largest revenue-collecting source in the federal government.

Late last year, the Senate confirmed Magnus after months of confirmation setbacks that left the agency with a void at the top amid a record number of border arrests. Magnus came in at a time when Customs and Border Protection, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, faced an influx of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border and grappled with travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
During his October hearing, Magnus voiced support for the public health order known as Title 42, which allows border officials to swiftly remove migrants encountered at the border, a policy launched by Trump administration in response to the pandemic. The policy has been criticized by immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers for largely barring migrants from seeking asylum at the US southern border.

“As a paramedic for 10 years public health has always been one of my top concerns, and because of that I think it’s absolutely imperative that we do everything possible to stop the spread of Covid. And Title 42 is a CDC authority, and I think it helps with this,” Magnus said during the hearing.

US Border Patrol, a division of Customs and Border Protection, made over 2.2 million arrests in the fiscal year 2022 for unlawful crossings on the US-Mexico border, the highest annual number of apprehensions on record.
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