U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned, ending a standoff with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Mayorkas asked Magnus to step down last week but the commissioner said he would not leave unless asked by the White House. President Biden accepted Magnus’s resignation, saying he 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.” Magnus told the Waashington Post that his departure “provides me with the best path for advancing my commitment to professional, innovative, and community-engaged policing.”
Magnus lasted just 11 months. He was confirmed by the Senate last December. Magnus, 62, was chosen to lead the largest U.S. law enforcement agency after building a reputation as a reformer as police chief in Fargo, N.D., Richmond, Ca. and Tucson. He was CBP’s first openly gay commissioner. Magnus’s ambitions to overhaul CBP put him at odds with Mayorkas and CBP leaders struggling to contend with record numbers of migrant arrests along the Mexico border. Magnus sought to make changes to policies governing high-speed vehicle pursuits, staff overtime practices and CBP inspections of travelers’ cellphones at border crossings, among other ideas. Those efforts were stymied, he said. Magnus said Mayorkas did not welcome disruptions, and was more attuned to the needs of career officials coping with the strains at the border. Magnus traveled to El Paso last week to attend a meeting of the Border Patrol sector chiefs. Mayorkas had asked him not to go. Mayorkas then asked for his resignation during a videoconference, telling Magnus that he and other 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. Miller was interim agency leader during much of 2021.