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Border Patrol head Magnus has resigned following standoff with DHS secretary

Nov. 12, 2022 Updated Sat., Nov. 12, 2022 at 9:26 p.m.

Venezuelan migrants gesture as they reach the U.S. border fence to turn themselves into the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on September 22, 2022, in El Paso, Texas.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
Venezuelan migrants gesture as they reach the U.S. border fence to turn themselves into the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on September 22, 2022, in El Paso, Texas. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Nick Miroff Washington Post

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned late Saturday, the White House said in a short statement, ending an awkward standoff between the country’s top border official and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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

The White House said President Joe Biden accepted Magnus’s resignation, “and appreciates his nearly forty years of service and the contributions he made to police reform during his tenure as police chief in three U.S. cities.”

In a statement to The Post, Magnus said the decision “provides me with the best path for advancing my commitment to professional, innovative, and community-engaged policing.”

The White House also published a copy of a letter from Magnus thanking Biden for his opportunity to serve “over the past year.” But Magnus lasted just 11 months in the job. He was confirmed by the Senate last December in a vote largely along party lines.

Magnus, 62, was picked by the White House to lead the country’s largest law enforcement agency after building a reputation as a leading law enforcement reformer during tenures as police chief in Fargo, N.D., Richmond, Calif. and Tucson He was CBP’s first openly gay commissioner.

Yet Magnus’s ambitions to overhaul CBP put him at odds with Mayorkas and senior CBP leaders struggling to contend with record numbers of migrant arrests along the Mexico border.

Magnus said he sought to make changes to policies governing high-speed vehicle pursuits, staff overtime practices as well as CBP officer inspections of travelers’ cellphones at border crossings, among other reform ideas. Those efforts were stymied, he said.

“I didn’t take this job as a resume builder. I came to Washington, D.C. - moved my family here - because I care about this agency, its mission, and the goals of this Administration,” Magnus said while defying attempts to oust him.

Magnus said he tried repeatedly to bring much-needed changes to CBP, but Mayorkas did not welcome disruptions, and was more attuned to the needs of career officials coping with the strains at the border.

According to Magnus, tensions peaked Wednesday after Magnus traveled to El Paso to attend a meeting of the Border Patrol sector chiefs. Mayorkas had asked him not to go. Magnus said Mayorkas then asked for his resignation during a videoconference, telling Magnus that he and CBP staff 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 leader, Mayorkas said in an email to CBP staff sent late Saturday. Miller ran CBP as its interim leader during much of 2021.

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