Chris Magnus appears before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination to be the next U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner in Washington, October 19, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS

Republicans grill Biden nominee for Border Protection chief

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s nominee to go U.S. Customs and Border Protection exasperated some Republicans on a U.S. Senate panel on Tuesday by refusing to name an ongoing surge in unlawful immigration a “crisis.”

Chris Magnus, the police chief of Tucson, Arizona, acknowledged throughout his affirmation listening to earlier than the Senate Finance Committee {that a} rise in unlawful border crossings since Biden took workplace was worrisome.

Immigration authorities arrested greater than 1 million migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border within the fiscal yr that ended Sept. 30, the very best quantity since 2000.

However Magnus stated Congress may do extra to deal with the surge by giving CBP extra assets and growing the variety of immigration judges.

“If we spent a little less time debating what the terminology is and perhaps a little more time trying to fix a broken system and working together, we could address what I’ve already acknowledged is one of the most serious problems we face right now in our nation,” Magnus stated.

A number of Republicans together with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina appeared stunned.

“Why admitting that there is a crisis on our border is a problem, I don’t fully appreciate,” he stated.

Biden nominated Magnus in April, hailing his expertise as police chief of a metropolis close to the U.S.-Mexico border and his status as a progressive legislation enforcement chief. Magnus was a vocal critic of Trump-era immigration insurance policies and brazenly supported “sanctuary” jurisdictions that restrict cooperation with federal immigration businesses.

The nomination is being vetted by the Senate Finance Committee due to CBP’s position in imposing U.S. commerce legal guidelines.

At Tuesday’s listening to, a number of Republicans recommended Magnus’ file made him an ailing match to steer the nation’s largest legislation enforcement company.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa learn a July 2020 tweet posted by Magnus criticizing the conduct of CBP brokers in response to the vandalism of a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon throughout a protest of racial injustice. Grassley requested whether or not it was flawed for the Trump administration to ship legislation enforcement to town.

Magnus stated federal authorities ought to have first coordinated with Oregon’s governor and the mayor of Portland, and that it was flawed for CBP brokers to not put on company patches or badges whereas coping with the general public.

“It’s a serious problem and I can’t endorse it,” Magnus stated.

However Magnus additionally repeatedly informed senators that he was not an ideologue and would work with each events to implement efficient immigration insurance policies.

He agreed with some Republican senators that migrants getting into the U.S. needs to be examined for COVID-19 earlier than they’re launched into border communities, and stated it was essential for municipalities to work with CBP and different businesses.

“I appreciate how decisions around sanctuary cities are ultimately political decisions,” he stated, “but as police chief and in this position (with CBP) my first obligation is to follow the law.”

Daniel Wiessner

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) stories on labor and employment and immigration legislation, together with litigation and coverage making. He might be reached at [email protected]