WASHINGTON — The commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency responsible for border security, is refusing to step down after being asked by the Biden administration, a Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News.
As the head of the Central Bank, Chris Magnus62, manages more than 60,000 employees whose missions focus on counterterrorism, border security, and trade enforcement.
The Los Angeles Times was the first to report that Magnus had been asked to resign.
Magnus has been in the post since December 2021 after being narrowly confirmed by the Senate in a 50-47 largely party-line vote. He previously served as police chief in Tucson, Arizona, from 2016 to 2020, stepping down after a civilian died in custody. Magnus also served as police chief in Richmond, California and Fargo, North Dakota. Earlier in his law enforcement career, he also spent 15 years as a police officer in Lansing, Michigan.
The clash between the Biden administration and Magnus occurred after a Report by Politico published in October, said five current administration officials “portrayed him as disengaged from his job, saying he frequently absented himself from White House meetings on the border situation, lambasted other agencies in front of colleagues and superiors, and did not has built relationships with CBP and through other agencies to address the influx of migrants at the border.” NBC News has not confirmed the report.
Biden and congressional Democrats have been barraged by criticism from Republicans who have tried to make the flow of migrants across the US-Mexico border a major issue during the midterm elections.
In September, Magnus accused Republican governors of luring more migrants to the U.S. by promising them free bus rides north to places like New York, Washington, D.C., and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. In an interview, he said that in some cases, the governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida “lied” to migrants about the opportunities that might await them in those cities, and that this was “luring” others to come to the United States.
In mid-September, NBC News reported that the Biden White House and senior DHS officials were at loggerheads over how to handle immigration as the number of undocumented migrants crossing the southern border continued to rise and Republican governors sent migrants to cities, where Democrats rule more.