Biden’s Curious Choice to Lead Customs and Border Protection

As Tucson Police Chief, Chris Magnus refused to assist Border Patrol.

The disaster on the U.S./Mexican border has catapulted the issue of border security to new levels of importance. Therefore, the Biden administration’s pick for the Director of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an always important position, has taken on additional significance.

On April 12, 2021 the Washington Post reported:  Biden picks Tucson police chief to run U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

That article began with this excerpt:

President Biden is preparing to nominate Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to be commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, selecting a critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies to run the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency as it contends with the biggest increase in migrants arriving at the southwest border in two decades.

Magnus has led the Tucson police department since 2016 and has prominently associated himself with the movement favored by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that emphasizes a less-aggressive, community-based policing model.

Magnus opposed efforts to make Tucson a “sanctuary city,” but he generally eschewed cooperation with federal immigration authorities, placing him at odds with the Border Patrol union — and many of the agents and officials who will potentially be under his command.

Here is another important excerpt from the Washington Post article:

Relations between Magnus and the Border Patrol have been frosty, according to three current and former CBP officials, particularly following an incident in 2017 when the Tucson police declined to assist the Border Patrol after a suspect escaped from custody.

The Border Patrol’s union officials called him “an ultraliberal social engineer who was given a badge and a gun by the City of Tucson,” in a 2018 Facebook post.

Magnus is a member of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, which is a partner to the National Immigration Forum and says on its website that local police should not be involved in federal immigration enforcement.

It is beyond outrageous that Biden would pick a leader for CBP who opposes cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration law enforcement. This alone should disqualify him from becoming the director of CBP.

It is more than a bit ironic that on April 21, 2021, Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted a news release, "ICE officers arrest citizen of the Czech Republic in Illinois," which began with the following statement:

CHICAGO — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested a Czech Republic national convicted of attempted homicide and other crimes outside his residence in Lyons, Illinois April 19.

Tomas Ruckschlos, 34, was released into the community after serving time in prison for his crimes, without notification to ICE.

It is incredible that while ICE noted, with obvious frustration, the lack of cooperation by local police in Chicago that enabled an alien sought by ICE to be released into the community without making appropriate notification to ICE that Mr. Biden now seeks to have Chris Magnus lead CBP considering that he had similarly refused to cooperate with immigration law enforcement in the past.

The concept of various law enforcement agencies working cooperatively together has been a standard means of enabling various law enforcement agencies on all levels, to achieve common goals to enhance public safety and national security.

Such cooperation creates synergy, which is defined as:

The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

For decades various law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal level have created a variety of task forces to achieve vital common, shared goals.

Consider the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) that includes a wide variety of law enforcement agencies to combat both international and domestic terrorism and operates under the aegis of the FBI includes ICE agents along with local and state police. In point of fact, the number of ICE agents who are assigned to this important task force is second only the FBI.

Virtually all international terrorists violate multiple laws comprehended within the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is another important multi-agency task force that, not unlike the JTTF includes law enforcement officers from various local, state and federal agencies including ICE.

Smuggling organizations frequently smuggle aliens as well as narcotics into the United States. Furthermore, many of the leaders of drug trafficking organizations are aliens who also violate numerous statutes found in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

I was promoted to the position of INS Senior Special Agent and assigned to OCDETF for the final ten years of my 30-year career with the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), so I speak from professional personal experience.

For the four years immediately preceding my promotion and assignment to the OCDETF I was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Unified Intelligence Division (UID) in New York City, where I worked with a number of local and state police agencies as well as with other federal agencies and even law enforcement agencies of other countries.

In both of those assignments my unique authority as an INS agent was frequently a factor in our efforts to identify co-conspirators, when appropriate, to seek to bring criminal charges concerning violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act, against those who engaged in drug trafficking and related crimes that frequently included human trafficking and various crimes of violence that are most often perpetrated within the various ethnic immigrant communities, with the immigrants most often suffering the most violence at the hands of these thugs.

In addition to assisting with narcotics investigations as a law enforcement agent, I was specifically able to contribute to major investigations and prosecutions by using my unique authority, as an INS agent, to cultivate confidential informants and cooperating witnesses in various ethnic immigrant communities in furtherance of our investigations of major international drug trafficking organizations.

Contrary to the claims that having immigration law enforcement personnel cooperating with local and state police would undermine community policing in ethnic immigrant communities, in my personal experience, quite the opposite was true.

Indeed, Mr. Magnus has made such fatuous claims in the past to justify his opposition to having his police department cooperate with immigration law enforcement agencies.

As an INS agent I was able to arrange for cooperating illegal aliens to remain in the United States if they assisted with law enforcement officers to identify criminals as well as criminal organizations. Various visas are now available for such cooperating aliens that, may even facilitated the admission of they family members from foreign countries if their assistance was deemed to be particularly instrumental.

My colleagues in other agencies such as the FBI, DEA and ATF frequently told me that my authority as an INS agent was frequently more effective in gaining the trust and cooperation of members of ethnic immigrant communities than was their ability to provide huge financial rewards for cooperating witnesses and informants.

In many cases, our investigations depended on the ability to cultivate such informants and cooperating witnesses.

Furthermore, criminal aliens and members of transnational criminal organizations generally live and operate within the ethnic immigrant communities, thereby posing a direct and immediate threat to the safety and wellbeing of these immigrants no matter where they originally came from.  

Strong cooperation between all law enforcement agencies, especially ICE and CBP and local and state police can help to rid these communities of these violent and sociopathic predators, thereby making the lives of those in these various ethnic immigrant communities safer.

The goal of true “Community Policing” must be to safeguard the safety of the residents of the community and restore faith in our system of justice.

This is why there is a clear nexus between Interior Enforcement And The Border Crisis.

Additionally, there are a number of immigration-related criminal charges that can bring pressure to bear against foreign criminals and members of transnational gangs and international criminal and terrorist organizations.

Under 8 U.S. Code § 1326 - Reentry of removed aliens, criminal aliens who are deported and then illegally reenter the United States face up to 20 years in prison. I worked with then-U.S. Senator Al D’Amato to create this enhancement for criminal aliens back in the early 1980’s. 

Alien smugglers / human traffickers, whether they are United States citizens or aliens, may be prosecuted for violation of 8 U.S. Code § 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens.

Under the provisions of 18 U.S. Code § 922(g)(5) any alien illegally present in the United States who is found to be in possession of a firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment upon conviction for this crime.

Under the provisions of 18 U.S. Code § 1546 - Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents an alien who violates the provisions of this statute faces up to 20 years in prison if the violations were involved in drug trafficking and up to 25 years on prison if such crimes were related to international terrorism.

These laws were enacted to protect national security and public safety, yet Mr. Biden and his administration refuse to do what is necessary to live up to their oaths of office and protect America and Americans.

The next leader of CBP must fully embrace the notion of cooperation between all law enforcement agencies including CBP and ICE with local law enforcement and not seek to obstruct it.

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