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President Biden nominates Tucson police chief to lead Customs and Border Protection

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Posted at 7:40 AM, Apr 12, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KNXV/KGUN 9) — President Biden is nominating Tucson's chief of police Chris Magnus to lead Customs and Border Protection, according to a statement from the White House Monday.

“I am, of course, very honored to be nominated by the President to lead Customs and Border Protection. I look forward to speaking with senators and hearing their thoughts and concerns," Magnus said in a statement. "As I’ve told our department members, serving as Tucson’s Chief of Police has been, and continues to be, one of the best experiences of my career in policing. Tucson is a special community and TPD is a professional, community-engaged police department. The confirmation process is never a certainty. As the Senate moves forward with its deliberations, I remain committed to serving as your Chief of Police to the best of my ability.”

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Chief Magnus was appointed to lead Tucson's police department in 2016 after serving as the police chief for Richmond, California.

"Because of Tucson’s proximity to the border, he has extensive experience in addressing immigration issues," the White House statement says.

The New York Times was the first to report Magnus's nomination Monday.

"Mr. Biden, who campaigned on increasing oversight at Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, chose not a veteran of the agency but rather a progressive police chief who promoted community policing efforts while overseeing departments in Tucson and Richmond, Calif. Mr. Biden was compelled to choose him because of those efforts to reform departments, as well as his recent work policing a city close to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a White House official," the New York Times wrote.

Magnus openly criticized President Donald Trump's immigration policies, the NYT notes.

The news comes amid high levels of border crossings, which are said to be at the highest level in 15 years, and the highest-ever number of kids alone at the border.

Mayor Regina Romero released this statement on Magnus's nomination:

“I want to congratulate Chief Magnus for his nomination to serve as Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” said Mayor Regina Romero. “During his time in Tucson and throughout his career, Chief Magnus has developed a national reputation for his sensible, inclusive approach to policing that has always centered around community building."

"Chief Magnus has always understood the importance of distinguishing the role of local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement and how critical this is to protecting community trust. He has gained valuable experience serving as Police Chief of a major city here in the Borderlands.

"As an established immigrant-welcoming community and in response to SB-1070, Mayor & Council directed a series of amendments to TPD's General Orders that protect victims and witnesses of crimes from arbitrary immigration status inquires, prohibit stops and detentions based on "suspicions" of unlawful status, and other actions aimed at protecting the rights of our immigrant communities. I am grateful for the Chief's leadership in implementing these reforms, as well as other efforts including streamlining TPD's U-visa process and the creation of a new refugee liaison program.

"I wish the Chief the best of luck during his confirmation process and look forward to continue working with him for the time that he is in Tucson."