Sanwar Ali: additional reporting and comments
US President Joe Biden’s nominees for two US immigration posts are known critics of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Amid federal authority struggles to cope with a growing migrant surge at the US border with Mexico, Biden has nominated Chris Magnus, the police chief in Tucson, Arizona and Ur Jaddou.
In the US these high ranking public sector jobs are to a great extent political appointments. If you have a change in the ruling party in the US then many people in top level posts will leave to be replaced by people who are more likely to agree with the views of the new president. The position at the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement remains unfilled. Presumably there will be a confirmation fight in Congress over these appointments. Trump got round this by appointing people he wanted into "acting" positions!
Magnus has been nominated by Biden to head US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while Ur Jaddou has been put forward to lead United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Both nominees will have to be confirmed by the Senate before assuming their respective roles.
Chris Magnus has led the Tucson police department since 2016, while Ur Jaddou is a former general counsel of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and has worked for Washington-based immigrant advocacy group, America’s Voice, during the Trump administration.
Magnus has aligned himself with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which emphasizes a ‘less aggressive, community-based policing model’. In Tucson, he led a force of 1,000 officers and staff. By comparison, the CBP totals about 60,000 staff.
Meanwhile, Magnus has opposed attempts to declare Tucson a ‘sanctuary city’ where undocumented immigrants could stay with minimal fear of being apprehended by federal border patrol agents.
However, he has also mostly shunned cooperation with US immigration authorities, which has led to clashes with the Border Patrol union, including many agents and officials who will be under his command should the Senate confirm his nomination.
In a 2017 incident, Tucson police refused to assist the Border Patrol after a suspect escaped from custody. Meanwhile, in a 2018 Facebook post, Border Patrol union officials described Magnus as “an ultraliberal social engineer who was given a badge and a gun by the City of Tucson.”
Mr Magnus is also a member of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, a partner to the National Immigration Forum, which says that local police should not involve themselves in federal US immigration enforcement.
In 2020, the Police Executive Research Forum, which works with departments across the USA, gave its leadership award to Magnus saying: “He has created new programs that serve as models for police agencies across the country.”
Magnus also offered to resign his post last year following an incident in which a man died in police custody when he said he couldn’t breathe after being handcuffed and restrained facedown. However, the Tucson city manager rejected Magnus’ resignation.
While working for America’s Voice, Jaddou tried to hold the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accountable for its actions and frequently criticized Trump’s policies.
In August 2020, Jaddou said a US citizenship naturalization ceremony during the Republican National Convention “belies the reality of the Trump administration’s abysmal record on naturalization and immigration over the last three and a half years.”
US borders closed
Biden continues to insist that the border is closed to immigrants. However, Republicans have accused him of triggering one of the biggest migrant surges in 15 years.
Meanwhile, Democrats have widely commended Biden’s US immigration policies, describing them as ‘more humane’ than Trump’s. However, some prominent Democrats have sided with Republicans in describing the massive migrant influx as ‘a crisis for which the new administration was unprepared.’
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