NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson police chief Chris Magnus is set to become the new commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Magnus received a vote of confidence from Santa Cruz County sheriff David Hathaway, who grew up in Nogales and now helps federal agencies protect the border.
Hathaway says Magnus being chosen as the new head of CBP is "outstanding."
“He’s not a fearmonger," Hathaway said. "Some people like to talk about ‘The sky is falling, and we need to be scared of everything. We need to be scared of the people on the other side of that fence…’ But he’s optimistic. He’s ready to do the job.”
Hathaway says the Nogales area's difficult terrain means that the region has not seen the recent spike in illegal border crossings that other, flatter areas like Yuma and Texas have seen.
The sheriff also says that the U.S. and Mexico's population growth in recent decades provides some context for the record-breaking 1.7 million illegal border crossings over the past year.
Another Nogales native and former mayor Marco Lopez, who served as CBP's Chief of Staff for the Obama administration, also gave Magnus his support.
“On these issues of high interest and high risk, you wanna be playing offense, not defense," said Lopez, who is running for governor of Arizona. "And so I think he’s got that personality. Serious, is willing to listen.”
When Magnus takes over his new role, he will face high risk issues like a backlog of migrant visa and asylum cases and a shortage of federal staff to process them.
Hathaway says another concerning issue is fentanyl—which can be deadly and easily concealed—became the drug of choice being trafficked through Nogales.
But as pandemic shutdowns wane, Hathaway is optimistic that drug abuse will decline and Southern Arizona businesses will recover.
“What we don’t wanna do is have an Iron Curtain like the Soviet Union did, like have this Berlin Wall," he said. "The legal tourist visa holders are once again allowed to come into the U.S., shop in Tucson, shop in Phoenix, shop in Nogales… We have a lot of economic interchange, cultural interchange [with Mexico].”
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