President Joe Biden has announced the nomination of an openly gay police chief as U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner.
According to the Washington Blade, Tucson Police Department chief Chris Magnus could become the next CBP commissioner. Before living in Tucson, Arizona, which is 70 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border, Magnus lived in Richmond, California and Fargo, North Dakota with his husband of 15-years named Terrance Cheung. In both cities, Magnus worked as the police chief.
“Because of Tucson’s proximity to the border, he has extensive experience in addressing immigration issues,” argued the White House in its announcement.
When talking to Tucson television station KVOA, Chris Magnus expressed that his nomination is an honor.
“I am, of course, very honored to be nominated by the president to lead Customs and Border Protection,” he said. “I look forward to speaking with senators and hearing their thoughts and concerns.”
Biden to tap Tucson, Arizona police chief, Chris Magnus, to serve as CBP commissioner, and Ur Jaddou to serve as director of USCIS. Jaddou, who formerly worked at USCIS, had been widely speculated as the incoming head of the agency.
— Priscilla Alvarez (@priscialva) April 12, 2021
Chris Magnus has been praised for previously diversifying the police force in Richmond. By the time Magnus left California, 60 percent of the Richmond Police Department’s active force were non-white. In addition, the majority of the department’s officers when Magnus started had left by the time he moved.
“It’s easier to get new people in a department than it is to get a new culture in a department,” he told Washington Monthly at the time.
That said, Magnus’s appointment won’t come without opposition. Tucson’s Black Lives Matter chapter has been vocal against the chief, stating that his leadership has not helped racial tensions and issues within the city.
“Black folks are less than 5% of the population here but we are still 4 times more likely to be brutalized by his cops. Magnus is a clown,” the group wrote on Twitter.
The organization also noted that the Tucson Police Department and Sheriff’s Department endorsed Donald Trump during the 2020 election.
As Black people from Tucson we can assure you that Magnus holding a single sign in 2014 did not in fact translate into any real action. Black folks are less than 5% of the population here but we are still 4 times more likely to be brutalized by his cops. Magnus is a 🤡.
— BLM-Tucson (@TucsonBlm) April 13, 2021
Conversely, Chris Magnus did personally condemn Donald Trump and his immigration policies. In a 2017 op-ed for the New York Times, the police chief accused Trump and then-attorney general Jeff Sessions of hindering police efforts to combat crime.
“The harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and Mr Sessions’s reckless policies ignore a basic reality known by most good cops and prosecutors,” he said, according to PinkNews. “If people are afraid of the police, if 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.”
In 2018, Magnus repeated this opinion while testifying to a Senate committee in 2018.
He said, “These are all people that make up the fabric of our community, and once we start, you know, tearing at that fabric in terms of creating that climate of fear, where people are simply unwilling to talk to the police or even talk to their neighbors, sometimes not even willing to come out of the house because they’re so afraid. All we do is we lower the level of safety for every resident of the city.”
Due to this stance, Chris Magnus may find himself in a position of receiving opposition from both conservative and liberal groups. With this in mind, he recently acknowledged that he may need to repair relations with the border control. That is, if he is approved for the role.
“I know much is made of how border patrol might feel about my nomination,” he said, “and I want to say right off that I do recognise that a border patrol or customs agent is doing a very difficult job.”
He then added, “I’m going to be making it a priority to get to know the people doing that job, to learn from them and to try and help them.”
Apart from Magnus, Biden announced several other intended nominees for high-profile posts, according to Politico. This includes Jon Meyer as Department of Homeland Security general counsel; Robert Silvers as DHS undersecretary for strategy, policy, and plans; John Tien as DHS deputy secretary; and Jen Easterly as director of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency.