As border crisis worsens, Biden taps new immigration officials

In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo, then Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus poses for a photo, in Richmond, Calif.

(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden announced Monday his plans to nominate several immigration officials to help address the growing crisis at the southern border, including some who were vocal critics of the Trump administration.

Biden’s announcement comes as the crisis at the border – and Americans’ sentiment surrounding it – continues to get worse.

Biden will tap Chris Magnus, chief of police in Tucson, Arizona, to head up U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The decision comes with Magnus’ history of politicized comments in tow. Magnus was a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump, penning an op-ed in 2017 criticizing the former president’s stance on sanctuary cities. He also made headlines for holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign in a photo that went viral.

“The administration’s crackdown on immigrants is already having a chilling effect on police-community relations here,” Magnus wrote in his op-ed. “Many community members have told me that Latinos are not turning to us for help or working with us as often as they have in the past. Their growing sense of fear and distrust is clearly a consequence of the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

Since the former president left office, though, illegal immigrant crossings have skyrocketed.

CBP reports that as of the end of March, the agency has had nearly 570,000 encounters with illegal immigrants so far this fiscal year.

“This represents an increase of 24 percent from the total encounters we had during all of Fiscal Year 2020, when migration was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase of over 34 percent from approximately the same time frame of Fiscal Year 2019,” the agency said in a statement.

In the month of March alone, CBP encountered 172,000 migrants attempting to cross the border, a figure that does not include those migrants who were able to slip past border patrol agents. That number is up from 101,000 from the previous month.

The increase in illegal immigration has also posed a serious COVID-19 risk. The problem is worsened when in some cases illegal immigrants are detained on their attempt to head north, catch COVID-19 in detention facilities, and then are released into the U.S.

A poll from Hill-HarrisX found that 76 percent of registered voters believe the border is in crisis and needs to be addressed immediately. Immigration was also the area where registered voters gave Biden the least support, according to the poll.

Vice President Kamala Harris has taken repeated criticism for her role in the border crisis as well. Biden tapped Harris to head up the difficulty at the border in March. She also sparked controversy with a gaffe, laughing when asked if she would be visiting the southern border.

The special assistant to the president for Immigration for the Domestic Policy Council Tyler Moran told MSNBC Monday that Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras have agreed to place more troops to slow the flow of migrants.

Biden also nominated Ur Jaddou as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Magnus’ nomination received pushback Monday afternoon.

“President Biden has nominated a police chief with no federal law enforcement or federal leadership experience who opposes many of the very policies that have prevented border crises,” said Matthew Tragesser, press secretary at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Chris Mangus has explicitly revealed his support for dangerous sanctuary city policies that prohibit local and state law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.”

“With Mangus at the helm, the nation will become a sanctuary nation, not just a city,” he added.

Overall, the Biden administration is still facing heat for the ongoing crisis at the border and the spike in illegal immigration.

“We are committed to balancing the need to maintain border security, care for those in our custody, and keep the American people and our workforce safe,” CBP senior official Troy Miller said.