The acting head of Customs and Border Protection is stepping down after just over two months on the job.
According to an email he sent to CBP employees, John Sanders said he offered his resignation Monday and plans to resign on July 5.
Sanders called his time at CBP “the most fulfilling and satisfying opportunity of my career” and a “journey” that led to a personal and professional “transformation.”
“This transformation was due in large part to the fact that people embraced and welcomed me in a way that was new to me — in a way that was truly special,” the letter states. “To this day, I get choked up when speaking about it and I can’t adequately express my thanks. As a result, let me simply say I will never stop defending the people and the mission for which 427 people gave their lives in the line of duty in defending. Hold your heads high with the honor and distinction that you so richly deserve.”
Sanders encouraged CBP staff to “reflect on all that you have accomplished as a team” and “build upon your accomplishments and embrace new opportunities, remain flexible, and continue to make CBP extraordinary.”
“This is your organization… own it!” he added. “Don’t underestimate the power of momentum as you continue to tackle some of this country’s most difficult challenges.”
Sanders did not give a reason for his resignation but said he would “leave it to you to determine whether I was successful.”
The agency has recently come under renewed fire for reports of children being housed in substandard living conditions at Border Patrol stations.
After reports that more than 300 children from infants to teens were being housed at a station outside of El Paso without adequate showers or food, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said the government removed all but about 30 kids from the facility. About 100 more children were then moved into the Clint, Texas, facility.
“Our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis,” the Border Patrol told the Associated Press in statement Monday. CBP has been asking Congress to pass emergency humanitarian aid to deal with the influx of migrants.
Sanders has also faced pressure from the administration to reduce the number of illegal border crossings, which hit a 13-year monthly high this May.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who was moved away from CBP to fill the top spot in DHS after Kirstjen Nielsen stepped down, on April 15 named CBP Chief Operating Officer Sanders to be acting commissioner of the agency.
“John Sanders has proven instrumental to advancing CBP’s mission and organizational priorities across the agency,” McAleenan said then. “In addition to bringing greater focus on the agency’s operational requirements, he has provided strategic direction and oversight to critical enterprise services and operations support functions across the agency. With John Sanders’ leadership, CBP will continue to excel, remain ever vigilant, and accomplish the mission with steadfast resolve.”
Sanders joined CBP in July 2018. Before that he was an advisor for investment firm M33 Growth, CEO at Pramantha Solutions, and on the board of directors for Evolv Technology and OGSystems.
From June 2010 to December 2011 Sanders was deputy assistant administrator at the Transportation Security Administration and from August 2012 to December 2014 he was assistant administrator/chief technology officer at the agency.