The head of the US border agency is expelled


WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is being forced out of his role as head of the nation’s largest law enforcement agency as officers encounter a record number of migrants entering the United States from Mexico, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Chris Magnus has been ordered to resign or be fired less than a year after being confirmed as the Biden administration’s choice to lead the agency, according to two people who were briefed on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak. publicly. He refuses to withdraw.

Magnus’ removal is part of a larger upheaval expected at Homeland Security as it struggles to handle migrants from more countries, including Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. It comes as Republicans are likely to take control of the House in January and are expected to launch border investigations.

Migrants were stopped 2.38 million times at the Mexican border in the fiscal year that ended September 30, up 37% from the previous year. The annual total topped 2 million for the first time in August and is more than double the highest level of Donald Trump’s presidency in 2019.

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Brandon Judd, the chairman of the National Border Patrol Council, confirmed that Magnus was deported.

The Los Angeles Times was the first to report on the ultimatum. In a statement to the newspaper, Magnus said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had asked him to resign or be fired. He said he would not resign and defended his case.

Neither Customs and Border Protection nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to requests for comment. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she had seen the reports but had no comment.

Flows across the border have been extraordinarily high by any measure. The figures reflect deteriorating economic and political conditions in more countries, the relative strength of the US economy and the uneven enforcement of asylum restrictions. Trump-era asylum restrictions carry no legal consequences for crossing the border illegally, encouraging repeat attempts.

The Biden administration agreed with Western Hemisphere leaders in June to work more together to welcome migrants fleeing their countries. Last month, Mexico began taking back Venezuelans who entered the United States illegally, but measures so far have failed to produce major change.

“There have always been periods of influxes of migrants into this country for different reasons, at different times,” Magnus told The Associated Press last year. “But I don’t think anyone disputes that the numbers are high right now and that we need to work as many different strategies as possible to deal with those high numbers.”

Despite decades in law enforcement, Magnus was an underdog. As chief of police in Tucson, Ariz., he rejected federal grants to collaborate on border security with the agency he now heads and kept his distance from Border Patrol leaders in a region where thousands of officers are assigned.

Magnus angered some rank-and-file officers — and delighted agency critics — with his announcement in May that he was reviewing guidelines for officers to pursue vehicles after a series of fatal collisions.

In July, Magnus released an investigation that Mounted Border Patrol agents engaged in “unnecessary use of force” against Haitians at a massive camp in Del Rio, Texas in September 2021. investigation also revealed that the officers had not used their reins to whip the Haitians.

The National Border Patrol Council, the officers’ union, has been more muted in its criticism of Magnus than Mayorkas. But Judd, the union president, said he welcomed Magnus’ departure.

“I think that’s a good thing,” Judd said. “He was just working on policies that were just going to incite more criminal activity. The vehicle pursuit policy, had he implemented it, would have only increased criminal activity.

The Senate confirmed Magnus’ nomination in December by a vote of 50 to 47. Another key homeland security agency — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for years.

Magnus, 62, was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, where he served as an emergency dispatcher, paramedic, sheriff’s deputy and police captain. He served as police chief in Fargo, North Dakota, and Richmond, Calif., before taking the job in Tucson in January 2016.

In Tucson, Magnus created a program to keep people off drugs, worked with nonprofits helping the homeless, and revised the department’s use-of-force policy. He openly criticized Trump’s policies for making migrants more reluctant to share information about crimes with police.

Roy Villareal, the Tucson sector chief of the Border Patrol from early 2019 to late 2020, said he requested an introductory meeting with Magnus, who was then Tucson police chief, but did not. never heard back, calling their lack of interaction a “tell-tale sign.” “

Spagat reported from San Diego.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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