Biden Taps Trump Critic to Lead Customs and Border Protection

President Biden announced two vocal Trump critics he is slated to nominate Monday to oversee the Department of Homeland Security agency, as well as a slew of others for several top immigration roles, as the new administration struggles to contain a homemade crisis they are facing with having the largest increase in migrants arriving at the southwest border in over two decades.

Biden will tap Tucson, Arizona, Police Chief Chris Magnus to head Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Ur Jaddou to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These two agencies are subcomponents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Magnus, a longtime police chief made headlines prior to leading the Tuscan police department when he held a “Black Lives Matter” sign at a local Black Lives Matter demonstration during his time as police chief in Richmond, California back in 2014. Photos of him holding the sign while chatting with protestors landed him in trouble with Richmond Police Officers Association, as the move is seen to have violated state laws against those in uniform politicking.

During his tenure as police chief in Tuscan, Magnus penned an op-ed in 2017 slamming former President Trump’s executive order withholding money to sanctuary cities as an effort to move local officials to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants arrested or convicted of serious crime. In the op-ed, Magnus called the move a “chilling effect on police-community relations.”

“The administration’s crackdown on immigrants is already having a chilling effect on police-community relations here. Many community members have told me that Latinos are not turning to us for help or working with us as often as they have in the past. Their growing sense of fear and distrust is clearly a consequence of the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions,” Magnus wrote in a The New York Times op-ed in 2017.

If confirmed, Magnus would face a difficult challenge of how to handle the record-high numbers of migrants crossing the border that is expected to increase exponentially during the spring and summer months. CBP has struggled to move thousands of unaccompanied minors who are cramped in holding facilities to shelters within the three-day limit required by law. Instead, the Biden administration announced the opening of another temporary housing facility for unaccompanied minors in Michigan, bringing the total number of detention facilities around the nation to now 12.

Jaddou’s selection is seen as not a surprise where she previously led the DHS review team for Biden’s transition and served a stint as USCIS head counsel from 2014 to 2017 under former President Obama.

During the Trump presidency, Jaddou led DHS Watch, a project within America’s Voice, a progressive immigration advocacy firm. This unique credential will likely guarantee to hinder her Senate confirmation amongst Republicans from the Senate Homeland Security Committee, including Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

USCIS plays a crucial role for immigrants to certify their right to work in the country, travel internationally, and obtain or stay in legal status. The majority of the $5 billion budget funding structure helped covered the agency fees that were paid by foreign national applicants, wherein 2021 it saw a $4.8 billion of applicant fees.

Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Biden slew of nomination in a statement as “highly-regarded and accomplished professionals with deep experience in their respective fields.”

“I am excited that President Biden has nominated an extraordinary group of individuals for critical leadership positions in the Department of Homeland Security,” Mayorkas said in a press release. “They are highly-regarded and accomplished professionals with deep experience in their respective fields.  Together they will help advance the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to ensure the safety and security of the American people.”

Along with Magnus at CBP and Jaddou at USCIS, Biden also announced several intended nominees for high-profile posts at the department, including Jen Easterly as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; Jon Meyer as general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security; Rob Silvers as undersecretary for strategy, policy, and plans for the Department of Homeland Security; and John Tien, deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

The personnel announcements come as the White House continues to face mounting criticism for not assembling nominees to head federal agencies that will play crucial roles to help address the influx of migrants at the southern border. Biden has yet to name his nominee for director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and his southern border coordinator — Roberta Jacobson has recently announced her “retirement” by stepping down before the president’s 100 days in office as the crisis grows.

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