The Senate confirmed Chris Magnus as the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Tuesday. Magnus, formerly the chief of police in Tucson, Ariz., was narrowly confirmed 50-47, with Susan Collins the lone Republican to vote in favor. Sens. Cotton (R-Ark.), Lankford (R-Okla.), and Leahy (D-Vt.) did not vote. Magnus is the first Senate-confirmed CBP commissioner since 2019, when Kevin McAleenan left that position to become acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after President Trump fired Kirstjen Nielsen.
Magnus assumes control of the federal government’s largest enforcement agency amidst a continuing border crisis. In fiscal year 2021, CBP encountered over 1.7 million aliens at the Southwest border, the highest number ever recorded. During Magnus’s confirmation hearing in mid-October, he refused to call the situation a “crisis”, opting instead to use the Biden administration’s preferred terminology of a “significant challenge”. As Andrew Arthur wrote at the time in response, “respectfully, 1.7 million aliens are not a ‘significant challenge’, unless border security is a formality and not a national security issue. If Chief Magnus believes that the border is not a national security vulnerability, that is a real concern for the nation.”
Magnus’s opposition to enforcing immigration laws is not merely limited to his responses during his confirmation hearing. As my colleague Jessica Vaughan highlighted in her recent report, Magnus has a history of perpetuating the myth that immigrants are less willing to report crimes out of fear of immigration enforcement. In a 2017 op-ed published in the New York Times, Magnus wrote, “If people are afraid of the police, they fear they may become separated from their families or harshly interrogated based on their immigration status, they won’t report crimes or come forward as witnesses.”
Such assertions are not based in fact. Vaughan writes:
Data from the [National Crime Victimization Survey], the most authoritative national source of statistics on crime reporting, shows that crimes against immigrants (naturalized citizens and non-citizens) are reported to police at rates that match or exceed those of the U.S.-born. We find that this is consistently true for various types of crimes, and it is true for female victims, for Hispanic non-citizens (a group that includes many illegal aliens), for younger and presumably more recently arrived immigrants, across most geographic regions, and in both small and large communities. This is the case even though law enforcement in most jurisdictions routinely cooperates with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Our analysis also shows that in the overwhelming majority of victimizations, the immigrants themselves reported the crime to police. Of immigrant victims who did not report a crime, very few gave reasons stating or suggesting that they feared police or immigration enforcement.
Today is December 8 and CBP has yet to release November’s numbers border apprehension. CBP has practiced this delay tactic throughout the Biden administration, not officially publishing October’s data until November 16. There is scant evidence to suggest that Magnus intends to secure the border, but he would be wise to listen to the Border Patrol agents on the ground instead of the Biden political appointees in Washington, D.C.