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By Geneva Sands and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
President Joe Biden’s election as head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection will testify to a Senate panel Tuesday, arguing why he should head the border agency on the southern border for one of the busiest years in two decades.
Tucson, Ariz., Police Chief Chris Magnus’s nomination was delayed by Finance Senate Chairman Ron Wyden, who cited unanswered questions about the protests in Portland last year. The Department of Homeland Security has since provided additional information and put Magnus’ nomination back on track.
The hearing comes as the border agency, already tense with months of escalating arrests, comes under scrutiny such as the sudden arrival of thousands of migrants in Del Rio, Texas last month and the continued application of a public health ordinance from the Trump -Era to quickly evict migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border.
Biden hired Magnus to head CBP in May. On Tuesday, Magnus plans to reveal his borderline experiences and commitment to the trade, according to prepared remarks from CNN. In his opening statement, Magnus also acknowledges the challenges associated with running the agency.
“More than a few colleagues, friends and family members have asked me, ‘What do you think?’ Why should I take on the important but challenging responsibility of leading CBP at this moment? ”He will say after his prepared remarks. “I want to make a difference.”
The arrests of the US Border Patrol for illegal border crossings between the US and Mexico have skyrocketed since Biden took office, so that Magnus has to inherit an agency that has reached its limits. The total number of arrests for fiscal 2021 likely exceeded 1.6 million – the highest annual number since 2000, according to CBP data and a source familiar with September data, which has not yet been officially released.
In mid-September, the Department of Homeland Security – which includes CBP – was caught by surprise when thousands of migrants, mostly Haitians, arrived in Del Rio. People huddled under a bridge in a makeshift camp were left in misery and exposed to the elements while the federal government scrambled to handle and move people out of the area.
During this time, video emerged of border guards on horse patrols aggressively targeting migrants, sparking public backlash and harsh condemnation from Biden and other senior administrators.
An investigation into the incident continues despite Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ assurances that it would be completed in days, not weeks.
If confirmed, Magnus will take over the helm of the largest law enforcement agency and second largest source of income in the federal government. He also served as the chief of police for Richmond, California for 10 years, and prior to that as the chief of police in Fargo, North Dakota, according to the department’s biography.
The CBP commissioner is responsible for overseeing border security at the country’s airports and land border crossings, as well as for the agency’s extensive trade and travel mission.
“I know all too well the impact trade and its economic impact can have on America’s communities. As a police officer in Lansing, Michigan, I saw firsthand what happened when the US auto industry was struggling in the 1980s and 1990s, ”Magnus is likely to say. “If I am confirmed to lead this agency, I will work with this committee and with Congress to protect intellectual property, US agriculture, and the many products that Americans rely on.”
Magnus will also address the agency’s role in combating forced labor abroad and identify this as one of its “high priorities”.
The border agency has no confirmed leader since Kevin McAleenan stepped down during the Trump administration. Troy Miller, a career officer, has served as the assistant commissioner since Biden took office. Several senior professional officials resigned during Miller’s tenure, including former US Border Protection chief Rodney Scott and CBP deputy commissioner Robert Perez.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, another DHS immigration agency, is also awaiting Senate approval of its candidate Ed Gonzalez.
The CNN Wire
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