Some big news came out of Washington recently, and it had nothing to do with midterm elections. It may have surprised many to learn that, yes, the Biden Administration has a limit for how much incompetence and radicalism it will accept in its agency heads.
This was demonstrated in the forced resignation of the shamefully unfit Chris Magnus as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after just 11 months.
Based on his job performance metrics, Magnus was a disaster as CBP chief and deserved to be sacked. In fiscal year 2022, Border officials encountered 2.7 million foreign nationals at our borders who either entered the U.S. illegally or were otherwise inadmissible at a port of entry. That was a new record that exceeded the total for all four years of the Trump Administration.
Similarly, more fentanyl crossed the border in the last two months under Biden than in all of fiscal year 2019. The last fiscal year was also the deadliest on record for migrant deaths and saw an alarming spike in the number of known or suspected terrorists encountered by border agents.
Perhaps just as damaging was the effect of Magnus’s “leadership” within the agency. From the time he arrived at CBP, Magnus was criticized for sagging morale among agents. An exasperated Border Patrol Union tweeted that “he was so busy chasing imaginary ‘culture’ problems in BP he forgot his primary job … Good riddance.”
Five current administration officials recently described Magnus as disengaged from his job, missing or sleeping through key meetings on stemming the flow at the border.
Even for an administration that sees little problem with the disaster its policies have wrought at the border, the near-mutiny Magnus had created was a bridge too far.
The fact that Magnus was nominated for the position at all is an indictment of the Biden White House’s lack of seriousness on immigration at large. CBP is a critical agency to maintain control of the border, and demands a chief with commensurate experience.
Magnus was a reach candidate at best. He had no experience within CBP or any other immigration enforcement agency. His primary justification for the position was his time spent as chief of police at mid-sized locales in Tucson, Arizona, and Richmond, California. That is hardly the sufficient training to run a federal agency of 60,000 employees and an $18 billion budget.
Even in that meager experience, there were red flags galore. My organization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), investigated Magnus in his police chief stints. We found that Magnus had been a longtime critic of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity to remove criminal aliens from communities. He instead favored “community policing,” which by his definition includes opposing cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement to remove dangerous illegal aliens from our cities.
He was apparently also a fan of dangerous sanctuary policies. In an email to the staffer of a Democratic U.S. congressman from California on July 28, 2015, Magnus praised an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee that urged the public not to change sanctuary laws in the wake of Kate Steinle’s death. Steinle was shot and killed in San Francisco by an illegal alien from Mexico who was previously deported five times and admitted to police he came to the city because of its lenient sanctuary laws.
In perhaps the most dramatic example of his radical beliefs while serving as police chief in Richmond, Magnus was photographed holding a “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) sign with demonstrators at a rally. After the Richmond Police Officers Association publicly complained that he was violating state law by politicking in uniform, Magnus replied, “I would do it again.”
Does the sum total of these behaviors sound like someone who should be entrusted with protecting the nation from a growing number of security threats at our southern border? Absolutely not.
Now that the Biden White House has shown a rare moment of responsibility, the next question should be when it will demand Alejandro Mayorkas’ resignation. If Magnus was a dumpster fire as CBP chief, Mayorkas has been a nuclear Armageddon as secretary of Homeland Security with his endless dishonesty toward Congress and the American people about his ruinous tenure.
Given that Biden has driven our border security into the proverbial ditch, it is now essential to name a serious person to replace Magnus. We no longer have the luxury of tolerating any more woke idealogues and their fantasies about “reimagining” the core responsibilities of protecting our nation. CBP is about defending America’s border, period. Get a person to focus on that and nothing else.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.