The Biden administration is pressuring its top border official to resign — but he says they'll have to fire him

side view of man at desk talking into mic
Chris Magnus, Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, testifies during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Oct. 19, 2021.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • The head of US Customs and Border Protection said Friday that he had been asked to resign.

  • CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said the request was made by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

  • Magnus told the Los Angeles Times that he plans to stay in his position.

Less than a year after he was sworn in the top US border official said Friday that the Biden administration is pushing to replace him.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Chris Magnus, head of US Customs and Border Protection, said that he had been twice this week asked to resign or risk being fired. A former police chief from Tuscon, Magnus was confirmed to his position last December by a 50-47 vote in the Senate.

Magnus said the request was made earlier this week by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. According to Magnus, Mayorkas said he would request that he be fired if he did not submit a resignation. The threat was reiterated on Thursday by another DHS official, Magnus said.

"I expressed to him that I felt there was no justification for me to resign when I still cared deeply about the work I was doing and felt that that work was focused on the things I was hired to do in the first place," Magnus told the Times.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In his current role, Magnus oversees the federal government's largest law enforcement agency, including members of the US Border Patrol. According to Magnus, Mayorkas asked for his resignation after the CBP commissioner decided against providing a "retention" bonus to the head of Border Patrol, citing philosophical differences.

Despite enforcing strict border measures, including Title 42, a Trump-era public health order that bars most migrants from exercising their legal right to request asylum at a port of entry, Republicans have assailed the Biden administration for not doing more to prevent unauthorized crossings.

The number of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border is below the number seen in the early 2000s, according to DHS. But, in part due to Title 42 compelling many asylum-seekers to illegally cross the border to present their claims — and with those detained under the policy often immediately expelled, not formally deported, better enabling repeat attempts — CBP last month reported a record number of apprehensions.

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