According to a new report from The Washington Post, President Joe Biden is “preparing to nominate” Chris Magnus — the current police chief for Tucson, Arizona — to serve as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) chief. As its name suggests, CBP handles (among other responsibilities) undocumented immigration at the southern border, where high numbers of migrants have recently been taken into custody. Republicans have made a show of complaining about the Biden administration’s handling of the border, but they’ve failed to acknowledge the role of the fallout from the Trump administration’s own disastrous immigration policies.
Instead of prioritizing expanding the U.S. capacity to process and care for asylum seekers and other migrants arriving at the border, the Trump team prioritized — among other travesties — building stretches of wall in the middle of the desert, a lot of which merely replaced physical barriers that had already been there. During the Trump era, federal authorities also pressured local jurisdictions to assist federal immigration policy enforcement, but this cooperation could seriously muddle local law enforcement efforts — and, among other similarly minded opponents, Magnus has largely opposed these federal assistance initiatives, although he’s distanced himself from the term “sanctuary city.”
Trump’s team repeatedly claimed that so-called sanctuary cities, where local officials refused to damage their own law enforcement efforts by becoming de facto extensions of federal immigration enforcement, allowed criminals to walk free, but that’s a brazen misrepresentation. In no case has any sanctuary city, whether they use the term or not, restrained its actual law enforcement efforts. Criminals no matter their citizenship status have still been handled according to the law. Authorities have just refused to taint their local policing by carrying out federal assistance demands, which could — among other problems — intimidate non-citizens away from seeking help from law enforcement.
Gil Kerlikowske, who served as CBP chief during the latter years of the Obama era, told the Post the following about Magnus:
‘I’ve known him a long time. He’s a strong leader. Thoughtful, and quiet. Which is exactly what CBP needs. I couldn’t happier for the organization.’
Ali Noorani, who works as executive director of the immigrant advocacy group known as the National Immigration Forum, also praised Magnus, calling him “one of the most effective chiefs along the U.S.-Mexico border.” In 2019, Magnus himself said that Tuscon is “now widely recognized as having one of the most rational, compassionate and comprehensive approaches to interacting with undocumented persons among states with similar laws.”
Besides this step to undo the chaos of the Trump era, the Biden administration has also — among other policy moves — stopped border barrier construction and moved to end the so-called Remain in Mexico program that made migrants wait in Mexico while their claims were processed. The Biden team also moved to relax the blanket restrictions on migration that the Trump administration imposed under the guise of the pandemic, which they hardly actually cared about in plenty of other circumstances.