Biden border chief ripped for skipping, sleeping in meetings despite migrant crisis
The knives are out for President Biden’s border security czar.
Chris Magnus, who Biden tapped to lead US Customs and Border Protection in April of last year, has been slammed by his own colleagues as disengaged from his work — even missing or sleeping through key meetings on the ongoing migration crisis, according to a new report.
Magnus, 61, has also been accused of ripping other agencies to co-workers and superiors, failing to cement relationships needed to address the surge of illegal border-crossings, and being more concerned with claims of racism and violence against the Border Patrol than stopping the flow of migrants across the US-Mexico frontier, Politico reported, citing five administration officials.
“He’s not in the game,” one administration official told the outlet. “Every time there’s a meeting and he’s in it, we’ll get to a conclusion and Magnus will have some sidebar issue that he wants to raise and we’re all like ‘What the f–k is that about?’”
The report also claimed that six officials had seen Magnus nod off in “multiple” meetings about the border, including one concerning the surge in Venezuelans attempting to enter the US.
Magnus was confirmed by the Senate in December 2021 by a narrow 50-47 vote, but he was grilled during contentious confirmation hearings over his defense of sanctuary cities and resistance to the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies.
Even as the number of arrests at the border reaches record highs this year, officials claim Magnus is content to pass the buck to other agencies rather than dealing with the situation, the report said.
At one point, Magnus reportedly gave Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a load of complaints and grievances about Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for arresting and holding illegal immigrants inside the United States.
CBP, which is responsible for border security, and ICE are under the umbrella of DHS.
Magnus, according to the report, asked for an emergency meeting with Mayorkas and other top DHS officials during a trip to the border earlier this year to air complaints about ICE that he had been compiling from CBP members.
Magnus said in a statement to Politico that he has spent much of his first full year on the job learning about the CBP’s “many complex areas.”
He added that he is “closely involved in the major DHS immigration, border security, trade, and other policy discussions.”
“I’ve always been someone who aggressively questions the status quo, looks for ways to do things better, and engages directly with the public and workforce,” he said. “In any organization, some people are threatened by this. They don’t like it when someone questions ‘why’ certain things must be done the way they’ve always been done. I’m not here to back down to the predictable challenges from those people.”
Magnus also responded to the snoozing allegations by saying he suffers from bouts of fatigue because of the side effects from multiple sclerosis and has since had his medication adjusted to ease that reaction.
“Ironically, the most common complaint I’ve received from colleagues is about my tendency to ask too many questions in meetings and my desire to know what some believe is more than necessary on various topics,” he said, insisting that he plans “to remain fully engaged in the work of leading CBP and advocating on behalf of those who work here as well as for the American public.”
A DHS spokesperson also backed Magnus, who previously served as a police chief in Tucson, Ariz., Fargo, N.D., and Richmond, Calif.
“On border security, CBP is a critical component of the DHS-led $60 million anti-human smuggler campaign that has already led to 5,000 arrests with our partners, and we’re mobilizing additional personnel to support the Border Patrol. Commissioner Magnus plays a key role in all of this, and that’s where our focus remains,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Politico.
There have been more than 2 million encounters at the southern border over the past year for the first time — driven by an increase in migration from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, according to CBP figures.
In August, the most recent month for which numbers are available, border officials encountered 203,598 migrants, a 1.7% increase over July.
Of those encounters, 55,333 were migrants from Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua, representing a 175% spike from a year ago, the figures show.
The crisis at the border has gotten so out of control that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for months has been shipping busloads of migrants to cities inside the US, including New York City, forcing Mayor Eric Adams to issue a state of emergency to deal with the asylum-seekers.
In September, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew two planes full of migrants to the liberal enclave of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and has recently said he will continue to continue the flights to Democrat-run cities.