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CBP nominee Chris Magnus: No single solution for 'perfect border security'

By Don Jacobson
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CBP nominee Chris Magnus: No single solution for 'perfect border security'
Chris Magnus appears Tuesday before a Senate finance committee hearing for his nomination as U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Pool Photo by Rod Lamkey/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection faced tough bipartisan questioning at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, likely foreshadowing a close confirmation vote.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus promised to the Senate finance committee that as CBP leader during a time of polarization over illegal immigration, he would disregard ideology and "do what I have always done in my professional career -- uphold the law."

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"It is essential to recognize that what we think of as the border is not homogeneous, and there is no one solution that will provide us perfect border security," Magnus said in his opening remarks. "I pride myself on being a pragmatic and bipartisan problem-solver. I care about innovative ideas, not ideology."

Magnus, 60, was tapped by Biden in April to lead the agency, which has not had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2019.

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The confirmation process, however, has been delayed by committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who demanded that the Homeland Security Department release information about the use of its agents to counter street protests last year in Portland, Ore.

Wyden said last month that he'd allow the confirmation to move forward after conferring with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and receiving assurances that his department will "[review] its law enforcement policies, including use of force and of chemical munitions -- a review I've been calling for since [former President Donald] Trump first deployed federal troops to Portland and other U.S. cities in the summer of 2020."

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"My neighbors in Portland are still reeling from the harm that the Trump administration inflicted upon them," Wyden said Tuesday in his opening statement.

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The hearing included some direct questions from Republican and Democratic senators who expressed dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden's handling of a surge of immigrants seeking to enter the United States.

CBP arrests along the Mexico border this summer rose to their highest level in 21 years, including more than 200,000 in July alone, which was the second-highest monthly figure ever.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., characterized the situation as "chaos" and demanded to know how Magnus would address it.

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Magnus said he'd use a two-track strategy in which migrants with asylum claims would be moved across the border more efficiently, while others would be stopped from crossing entirely.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., asked Magnus if he agreed that the border situation is "a crisis."

Magnus answered that the border and immigration situation is "very serious" and important.

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