President Biden’s choice to head the country’s main border agency was confirmed on Tuesday in a vote close to the party line in the Senate, installing someone who has argued for a more lenient approach to the country. illegal immigration.
Chris Magnus, police chief for Tucson, Ariz., Was appointed commissioner of customs and border protection by 50-47. Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, sided with the Democrats in backing him.
Mr Magnus will take over an agency rocked by an unprecedented wave of illegal immigration, which most analysts say was sparked by relaxed border policies. It will be difficult to reduce those record numbers, given the political constraints on President Biden.
Supporters for the new commissioner have said that as a police chief in a large city less than a hundred miles from the border, Mr. Magnus understands how to balance safety and compassion.
“Its priority to safety and human dignity is the approach CBP needs as it works towards orderly, secure and compassionate border solutions,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. .
But Mark Morgan, who served as the agency’s commissioner in the latter part of the Trump administration, said Mr Magnus would struggle to resolve the border mess.
“Magnus is just not the right fit for this critical federal law enforcement position,” Morgan said. “In recent testimony before that same Senate, he declined to call the crisis what it is – a crisis – and only reluctantly admitted that the Biden administration’s policy of non-compliance could be at the origin of the crisis. “
Mr Morgan also said Mr Magnus opposed the border wall, although the police chief admitted during his confirmation hearing that he was aware that border patrol officers say he there are places where more barriers are needed.
CBP has been without a confirmed commissioner since early 2019, when President Trump chose his then commissioner to become Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.
Mr. Biden has now confirmed his choices to CBP and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which process legal immigration applications.
Still awaiting confirmation, a choice to head the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency for deportation and domestic immigration.