Pablo De La Rosa is a freelance journalist, reporting statewide for Texas Public Radio and nationally for NPR.

The head of CBP who “challenged the status quo” is forced to resign after months of conflict with DHS and ICE

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

The head of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Commissioner Christopher Magnus, resigned on Saturday after months of internal conflict with The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Magnus, the first openly gay director of the CBP, has been the target of criticism from DHS and ICE over the ten months that he served in his now former role.

In October, administration officials that worked closely with Magnus told politico that “he badmouths other agencies to colleagues and superiors.”

From The Politico Article:

They complain he is unfamiliar with some of the operations of CBP and instead is focused primarily on reforming the culture of the Border Patrol, addressing its long list of allegations of racism and violence.

As an example, two of the five current administration officials said Magnus brought his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, pages of grievances about Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The US Government accountability office as well as groups such as Human Rights Watch and Southern Border Communities Coalition, among others, have documented issues at CBP ranging from physical and sexual abuse of migrants at the hands of agents to internal conflicts of transparency and accountability in relation to possible crimes committed by agents.

DHS and ICE were not the only agencies that Magnus criticized during his tenure at CBP. In the video below, Magnus criticizes Texas Governor Greg Abbott after the governor authorized state agencies to return migrants apprehended anywhere in Texas to federal agents on the US-Mexico border in July of this year.

The move by Abbott was questioned by legal experts as testing the limits of state authority.

Social media was quick to comment on the possible causes for the resignation.

Lex Vaughn, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founding editor of the Seattle-based comedy news website The Needling, posted on Twitter after The White House confirmed that President Biden accepted the resignation late on Saturday.

“Chris Magnus is one of the few law enforcement officials with the spine to really push and enact reform.” said Vaughn. “I saw him do this firsthand in Richmond, CA. Doing that with Border Control was a tall order. It’s unfortunately predictable they’d do everything they could to force him out.”

On Friday, The Hill reported that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had advised Magnus to “resign or be fired”.

Later that day, Magnus said in a written statement to The Washington Post that he had “no plans to resign as CBP Commissioner” but notified The White House of his resignation on Saturday.


Pablo De La Rosa reports on immigration, border communities, preserving democracy, and Latin America for Texas Public Radio and NPR from the Texas-Mexico border, where he grew up. He’s the host of the daily Spanish newscast TPR Noticias Al Día and a regular contributor at The Border Chronicle.

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