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Biden chooses Chris Magnus, Tucson police chief, to lead the CBP



Magnus has been leading the Tucson Police Department since 2016 and has prominently joined the movement favored by the Progressive Democratic Party, which emphasizes a less aggressive, community-based police model.

Magnus opposed efforts to make Tucson a “sanctuary,” but he generally avoided cooperating with federal immigration authorities and placed him at odds with the Border Patrol Union – and many of the agents and officials who would potentially be under his command.

Magnus is one of six nominated candidates and elections that the Biden administration will announce on Monday, according to a White House official who confirmed the election on condition of anonymity because they are not yet public.

The Biden administration allowed journalists to enter a crowded immigration facility in Donna, Tex., For the first time on March 30 (The Washington Post)

Biden will also nominate Ur Jaddou, the former attorney general for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to head the agency responsible for operating the country’s legal immigration system. Other choices include Jon Meyer, a former DHS and Attorney General, as DHS general secretary, and John Tien, a National Security Council adviser to President Barack Obama, as DHS deputy secretary. The election was first reported by the New York Times.

DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the elections “extraordinary” in a statement Monday, saying he hopes the Senate will quickly confirm them. “They are highly regarded and skilled professionals with extensive experience in their respective fields,” he said. “Together, they will help advance the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to ensure the safety of the American people.”

The Biden administration has been under increasing pressure to fill vacant senior positions at DHS, especially as Mayorka’s and his staff are struggling to respond to a record influx of unaccompanied minors along the border. Last month, CBP took more than 172,000 migrants into custody, the highest number in at least 15 years.

In Tucson, Magnus led a division of about 1,000 officers and personnel. If confirmed, he would be responsible for a staff 60 times the size of the CBP, which includes the U.S. Border Patrol and the Field Operations Office, whose blue uniformed officers control the country’s legal ports of entry.

The relationship between Magnus and the border patrol has been cool, according to current and former CBP officials, especially after an incident in 2017, when Tucson police refused to help the border patrol after a suspect escaped from custody.

Border Patrol union officials called him “an ultra-liberal social engineer who was given a badge and a gun by the city of Tucson,” in a 2018 Facebook post.

Magnus is a member of the Task Force on Immigration Law Enforcement, which is a partner of the National Immigration Forum and says on its website that local police should not be involved in federal immigration enforcement.

Gil Kerlikowske, who was CBP commissioner in Obama’s second term, praised the election of Magnus.

“I have known him for a long time,” Kerlikowske said. “He is a strong leader, thoughtful and quiet, which is exactly what CBP needs. I could not be happier for the organization. ”

Magnus is the son of an immigrant from Oslo and grew up in Lansing, Mich. He began his career in law enforcement in Michigan before continuing as police chief in Fargo, ND and Richmond, California. He would be the first openly gay Customs and Border Guard commissioner.

Magnus is considered a reformer and was among the police authority leaders who last year rejected the video showing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin tying the knee to the neck of George Floyd, a black man.

Magnus mocked the use of force as “indefensible.” Chauvin is now being prosecuted for Floyd’s death in that incident in May 2020. Weeks later, with protests led by Floyd’s death still spreading across the country, Magnus offered to resign after releasing video footage showing his officers detained Carlos Ingram- Lopez, a 27-year-old Spanish man who died in their custody.

Magnus said he offered to resign to show “my willingness to take responsibility for these mistakes.” The mayor later rejected his request and he remained in the job.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said Magnus “is one of the most effective chiefs along the US-Mexico border.” He said he is a good communicator and manager who cares about law enforcement as well as the community.

“He’s a smart cop,” Noorani said. “He has a big heart for his officers and his
Community.”

Last fall, the Police Executive Research Forum, which works with departments nationwide, announced that it would award its leadership award to Magnus, saying he “had created new programs that serve as models for police agencies across the country.”

The group said, among other things, that he was pushing new processes to review incidents involving police and promoting officers’ wellness.

Magnus had to balance society’s concern for public safety with sympathy for immigrants and the practical reality of living in a GOP-led state, where leaders have often preferred a harsh immigration policy. He wrote in a statement to the Arizona Daily Star in 2019 that he was “proud to live in a city that is ‘welcoming to all’, including our large immigrant population.”

But he said Tucson is not a “sanctuary city” and instead had worked to ensure that police do not engage in civilian immigration enforcement and that victims of crime were not afraid to come forward.

“We are now widely recognized for having one of the most rational, compassionate and comprehensive approaches to interacting with undocumented individuals among states with similar laws,” he wrote.

Jaddou – Biden’s choice to lead USCIS, the legal immigration system – has been working on immigration policy for decades. She recently led DHS Watch, an immigration policy watchdog for the law firm America’s Voice. She also served as chief counsel for the Immigration and Citizenship Justice Subcommittee from 2007 to 2011, then spent two years as deputy secretary of state at the State Department and was then USCIS chief counsel from 2014 to 2017 in Obama’s second term.

Jaddou, the daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Iraq, was born and raised in Chula Vista, California, and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of California at the Los Angeles School of Law.

USCIS provides a complex network of benefits that includes the Deferred Action program for childhood arrivals, green cards, and citizenship. The agency is also deeply involved in asylum cases and approvals of immigrants with temporary protected status.

Mayorca led USCIS for years under the Obama administration and has said naturalization of new Americans is the agency’s most important duty. But USCIS – which is mostly funded by application fees paid by immigrants – has struggled financially in recent years, which the Trump administration accused of a drop in applications during the pandemic. But critics, including Jaddou, accused the latter administration of pulling on immigration applications and of threatening their workforce with mass proliferation.

“It is time for Congress to save USCIS from the Trump administration, which has driven USCIS into the ground with xenophobic policies that went bankrupt to the agency, leaving it sadly unprepared to remove the fiscal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he tweeted. Jaddou in June 2020.


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