The U.S. Border Protection commissioner says he refused an order to resign from his beleaguered boss, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, amid an unprecedented wave of illegal immigrants pouring across the Mexican border.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus, 62, had been accused of skipping White House events and falling asleep in meetings, according to a Politico report last month. But he told the Los Angeles Times it was his defiance of an order not to meet with border patrol chiefs in El Paso this week and his refusal to extend a “retention” bonus for Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz that prompted Tuesday’s quit-or-be-fired ultimatum from Mayorkas.
“After me making extensive attempts to reach [Mayorkas] and discuss the matter, I went to the (border patrol chiefs) meeting so I could engage with the chiefs on various issues and concerns,” Magnus said. “I also met with Chief Ortiz to see how we might best work together moving forward.”
Magnus, whose career in law enforcement included stints in Michigan, North Dakota, and California, was police chief in Tucson, Arizona, when he was tapped a year ago to be commissioner of the CBP, a 60,000-person agency that oversees border security, trade and travel.
The Politico article painted Magnus as preoccupied with the agency’s culture and not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. An estimated five million people have crossed the border since the Biden administration took office and reversed many of former President Trump’s border security measures, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Magnus said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien on Thursday reiterated Mayorkas’ demand, saying he would be fired within days if he did not quit. Magnus said he refused to leave the post of his own volition.
“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 told the Times.
“I want to make this clear: I have no plans to resign as CBP Commissioner,” Magnus declared in a written statement, according to The Washington Post. “I didn’t take this job as a resume builder. I came to Washington, DC — moved my family here — because I care about this agency, its mission, and the goals of this Administration.”
The Biden administration has declined to take responsibility for the border fiasco, blaming governments in Latin America for the influx, The Washington Post reported.
“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” Magnus offered as an excuse. “Those fleeing repressive regimes pose significant challenges for processing and removal.”
Compared to the eight years of the Obama presidency, the Biden administration comes off poorly regarding immigration. In the first 20 months after Biden was inaugurated, Border Patrol made 3,484,327 apprehensions of illegal immigrants, while 3,384,816 apprehensions were made in the eight fiscal years of Obama’s term, as The Washington Examiner noted.