President Biden’s choice to lead Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be the subject of intense scrutiny by senators at his confirmation hearing next week, and immigration hawks will worried about what they call its “downright dangerous” record opposing police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
Chris Magnus, a police chief from Tucson, Ariz., Was appointed by Biden in April to head the agency that oversees the border patrol and is the frontline agency for U.S. border protection. His confirmation hearing is set for Tuesday and is under special scrutiny due to the fierce and ongoing crisis at the southern border.
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Magnus has been described as having “extensive experience in resolving immigration issues”, due to Tucson’s proximity to the border.
“I am delighted that President Biden has appointed an extraordinary group of people for critical leadership positions within the Department of Homeland Security,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said as Magnus and a host of other nominations were announced earlier this year. “They are highly esteemed and accomplished professionals with extensive experience in their respective fields. Together, they will help advance the mission of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the safety and security of the American people. I look forward to hearing from you. work with the Senate to support their early confirmation. “
However, this experience has also drawn opposition from Immigration Hawks, who point to its support for policies demanding non-compliance with internal immigration enforcement, as well as its opposition to the stricter border policies of the Trump administration. While CBP is not directly involved in domestic law enforcement, Hawks fear his appointment is another step towards what they describe as “open border” policies.
The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the Restrictive Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has obtained documents from when Magnus was police chief in Richmond, Calif., which show him working on the implementation of the city’s “sanctuary city”. “policies regarding the Richmond Police Department.
Sanctuary City policies prohibit most cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. This means that most detainees – the ICE demands that local police departments detain and transfer an illegal immigrant into its custody so that he can be deported from the country – are being ignored. Proponents argue that such policies encourage illegal immigrants to work with the police and report crimes, but critics note that such policies allow the release of criminal illegal aliens on the streets.
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The IRII obtained documents created or revised during its tenure that describe how officers were prohibited from complying with ICE detention requests, were not allowed to inquire about immigration status or citizenship and were not required to participate in most immigration enforcement actions.
In a 2012 email, Magnus sent out a set of guidelines: “This review brings us into line with the policy of ‘Sanctuary City’ of Richmond and further clarifies our policy of non-cooperation on immigration and immigration matters. customs enforcement (ICE), ”he said.
“There may be specific circumstances relating to certain gang cases involving our Special Investigations staff working with ICE agents when deviations from this policy will be permitted, but such exceptions must be authorized by one of the Chiefs.” , he told officers.
While Magnus was not the author of the policy and brought his service in line with existing municipal policy, other emails show him in 2015 sharing an article warning against changing the laws of the Sanctuary City following the death of Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant. – qualifying the article as “relevant” and reporting “strong points”.
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His defense of sanctuary city policies would continue within the Trump administration, which sought to quell those policies by denying grants – Tucson, Arizona is not strictly a sanctuary city, but Magnus said it ” would take[s] pride in welcoming immigrants.
“As chief of police here, I am deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s campaign against ‘sanctuary cities’, which refuse to hand undocumented migrants over to federal authorities,” Magnus wrote in an editorial in The New York Times in 2017, in which he criticized the administration’s “anti-immigrant rhetoric” and “reckless policies”.
“Tucson has gone too far to undermine reforms that strengthen relationships with the public we serve,” he said. “Department of Justice grants and other federal aid funded by our taxes should not be tied to immigration policies.”
Also in 2017, the Magnus Police Department opposed directives from then-Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly to prioritize execution operations for criminal illegal immigrants, allowing local police to help deport those they encountered.
“The entanglement of local police with additional immigration enforcement responsibilities would seriously compromise our ability to maintain the trust and support of our diverse community,” Magnus told The Arizona Republic. “If any of our residents believe that by reporting a crime, seeking help, or working with the police to make their neighborhoods safer, they will be unconstitutionally detained for an extended period or deported, our community becomes less certain. “
However, in 2019, he opposed a Sanctuary City voting measure for Tucson, saying the department is not “already engaging in civilian immigration enforcement, and officers are not verifying the immigration status during consensual or voluntary contact “. He also warned that restrictions on cooperation with federal agencies would result in the exclusion of partnerships with agencies on issues ranging from missing children to the fight against drugs.
In 2020, Tucson pulled out of a grant program that pays money to police departments that cooperate with border security after the Trump administration allegedly refused to allow the use of part of money to help migrants.
Magnus’ positions would not set him apart from his potential colleagues at Biden DHS, which quashed law enforcement inside and issued guidelines saying a person’s illegal status shouldn’t be the only factor which causes her to be expelled. But IRLI and FAIR say that while Mayorkas can fit, lawmakers should not approve his appointment.
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“Secretary Mayorkas may have been right when he called Chris Magnus a ‘highly regarded and accomplished professional with extensive experience,'” RJ Hauman, head of government relations for FAIR, told Fox. “Not only is he highly regarded by open border activists and illegal aliens, but he has a long history of opposing the enforcement of immigration laws.”
“While this may be a perfect CV in the eyes of the White House, it is disqualifying and downright dangerous,” he said, before referring to the failed nomination for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco. , Firearms and Explosives. “Senators from both parties must put their money where their voice is on resolving the border crisis and ensure that Magnus’ appointment meets the same fate as that of David Chipman.”
Magnus, meanwhile, dismissed the claim that he was a supporter of immigration issues.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating how hyperpartisan all of these issues can become, but I want to say from the start that I’m not an ideologue and want to make a difference,” Magnus told The New York Times. in April.
Fox News’s Evie Fordham contributed to this report.
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