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Chris Magnus Steps Down as CBP Commissioner After Citing Pressure to Resign

Magnus told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that Mayorkas said Wednesday he had lost confidence in the commissioner.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned today less than a year after being sworn in to lead the agency.

“The President has accepted the resignation of Christopher Magnus, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement this evening. “President Biden appreciates Commissioner Magnus’ nearly forty years of service and the contributions he made to police reform during his tenure as police chief in three U.S. cities. The President thanks Mr. Magnus for his service at CBP and wishes him well.”

Magnus’ resignation letter to Biden was brief: “Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Senate confirmed Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection over the past year. It has been a privilege and honor to be part of your administration.”

“I am submitting my resignation effective immediately but wish you and your administration the very best going forward,” Magnus added. “Thank you again for this tremendous opportunity.”

Magnus told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that he had been asked by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to step down but refused. He said access to his official Twitter account had been blocked.

Magnus told the newspaper that on Wednesday Mayorkas said that he had lost confidence in the commissioner and would recommend his firing to Biden if Magnus did not resign. Magnus added that the following day Deputy Homeland Security Secretary John Tien told Magnus that he should resign or that he would be fired within the next few days, according to the Times.

“I expressed to him that I felt there was no justification for me to resign when I still cared deeply about the work I was doing and felt that that work was focused on the things I was hired to do in the first place,” Magnus said.

Magnus said that Mayorkas met with him after Magnus decided to not continue a retention bonus for Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz because Ortiz was not in favor of Magnus’ reforms at CBP. Magnus also said that Mayorkas had told him to not attend a Tuesday meeting of Border Patrol chiefs in El Paso, which the commissioner ended up attending.

The Times cited an unnamed administration official as saying that Magnus was regularly absent from meetings on border policy while another described him as “missing in action” on immigration.

DHS has not yet issued a statement on Magnus’ resignation.

Last December, Magnus became the first confirmed CBP commissioner since 2019 by a Senate vote of 50-47.

CBP’s previous Senate-confirmed commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, assumed the duties of acting Homeland Security secretary and then resigned that fall. John Sanders only served in the acting commissioner role for fewer than three months before Mark Morgan was moved into the acting commissioner post and served in that capacity until the end of the Trump administration.

Troy Miller, who served as director of field operations for CBP’s New York Field Office, had served as acting commissioner from the outset of the Biden administration. He is currently deputy commissioner.

Magnus resigned as chief of police in Tucson, Ariz., to take the CBP job. He previously served as chief of police in Fargo, N.D., and Richmond, Calif.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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