President Biden’s expected pick to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Chris Magnus, has a record of defending sanctuary cities and resisting Trump administration orders about undocumented immigrants.
Magnus is currently police chief in Tucson, Arizona, where he made headlines for rejecting federal border security grant money from Operation Stonegarden in 2020 — a decision that earned him criticism from Tucson Police Officers Association head Tony Archibald.
“For years, this federally funded grant has paid for officer overtime to do proactive, on-site activity in high crime areas,” Archibald said at the time, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
“The Stonegarden deployments have resulted in hundreds of arrests that would not have occurred without this federal money. Additionally, the Stonegarden deployments have taken countless guns and drugs off the streets of Tucson,” he added. “Without these federally funded overtime deployments, an already understaffed police department will have a hard time addressing these crime issues.”
Years earlier, Magnus took issue with former Attorney General Jeff Session’s immigration policies in a 2017 op-ed in The New York Times.
“As the police chief here, I’m deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s campaign against ‘sanctuary cities,’ which refuse to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. Washington is trying to retaliate against them by withholding funding for things like crime prevention, drug treatment and mental health programs,” Magnus wrote.
“Almost all local law enforcement agencies, regardless of the ‘sanctuary’ or ‘immigrant-welcoming’ policies adopted by their jurisdictions, cooperate with federal authorities to go after drug cartels, human traffickers and transnational gangs,” he continued. “Justice Department grants and other federal support funded through our taxes should not be tied to immigration policies.”
Magnus clarified that Tucson is not a sanctuary city but its leaders “take pride in being welcoming to immigrants.”
Also in 2017, Magnus’ police department opposed orders from then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to prioritize enforcement operations for undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, The Arizona Republic reported. The orders also allowed local authorities to capture and deport most undocumented immigrants they encounter through a program that cities and counties could join.
“Entangling local policing with additional immigration enforcement responsibilities would seriously compromise our ability to maintain the trust and support of our diverse community,” Magnus told The Arizona Republic. “If any of our residents believe that by reporting a crime, seeking assistance, or working with the police to make their neighborhoods safer will cause them to be unconstitutionally detained for an extended time or deported, our community becomes less secure.”
“We will not compromise our commitment to community policing and public safety by taking on immigration enforcement responsibilities that appropriately rest with federal authorities,” he continued.
Magnus previously worked at the helm of police departments in Fargo, North Dakota, and Richmond, California. He has been described as having “extensive experience in addressing immigration issues,” because of Tucson’s close proximity to the border, according to information obtained by Fox News.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.