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CBP candidate, TPD Chief Magnus critical of past border policies

Kept Tucson Police out of immigration enforcement
Posted at 7:08 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 22:10:31-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The border and what to do about it is one of the hottest topics in this country. Now President Biden has proposed Tucson’s Police Chief to lead the agency on the front line of it all.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus is the President’s choice to lead Customs and Border Protection.

In Chris Magnus, President Biden is proposing a law enforcement leader critical of President Trump border policies. Testifying to a Senate committee in 2018, Magnus called enhancing the border wall a waste of resources better spent on other law enforcement needs.

He said Tucson Police worked with Federal law enforcement to fight cross-border crime like drug smuggling, but did not cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement because it made people afraid to share information that helps fight crime in their communities.

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.”

Juanita Molina of Border Action Network hopes Chief Magnus will bring flexibility and community sensitivity to CBP.

“I've seen him work with a wide variety of different populations and different cultural aspects of it. Now this takes it to a whole new dimension when you're talking about. On a national level and working on international borders. This will be a very specific challenge.”

Molina says one challenge for Magnus could be issues with Border Patrol’s use of force. He faced similar issues in the case of Carlos Ingram-Lopez who died after Tucson Police restrained him.

In a surprise announcement he said, “To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes. I am offering my resignation to the mayor, city council and City Manager, which they can accept or handle as they deem appropriate.”

City leaders did not ask Magnus to leave then. Leaving now for the CBP post will require Senate approval in a Senate where the President’s party holds just a one vote margin. Magnus says he’ll be proud to continue serving Tucson until he knows if he has a future in Washington.