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Top U.S. border official Chris Magnus resigns after less than a year on the job

Chris Magnus during a Senate confirmation hearing in October 2021.
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Chris Magnus during a Senate confirmation hearing in October 2021.

Updated November 12, 2022 at 10:12 PM ET

The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection stepped down from his job late Saturday following a year of record migrant apprehensions at the southern border.

The White House announced that CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus offered his resignation, and that President Biden has accepted.

"President Biden appreciates Commissioner Magnus' nearly forty years of service and the contributions he made to police reform during his tenure as police chief in three U.S. cities," said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement. "The President thanks Mr. Magnus for his service at CBP and wishes him well."

Magnus served in the job for less than a year. His resignation comes one day after hetold the Los Angeles Times that he had declined a request to resign from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who oversees CBP.

In an email to the CBP workforce, Mayorkas thanked Magnus for his service and said that Troy Miller, a career CBP official who served in the job before Magnus was confirmed by the Senate in December, will serve as acting commissioner beginning immediately.

The shakeup at CBP comes after migrant apprehensions at the southern border climbed to a record high of more than 2.3 million in the past year, fueling attacks from Republicans that the Biden administration's border policies are too lenient.

Magnus, who is 62, was picked by the White House and confirmed by the Senate in a party-line vote. He was the first openly gay man to lead the CBP, the nation's largest law enforcement agency.

Magnus built a reputation as a law enforcement reformer during his time as police chief in Fargo, N.D., Richmond, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz. And he tried to make changes at CBP as well.

More than a dozen House Republicans sent a letter to President Biden earlier this month urging him to ask for Magnus's resignation after an unflattering story from Politico, which portrayed Magnus as unengaged in meetings with White House staff and unfamiliar with the operations of the sprawling agency of more than 60,000 employees.

Magnus denied those allegations. "I didn't take this job as a resume builder," he told The Washington Post. "I came to Washington, D.C. — moved my family here — because I care about this agency, its mission, and the goals of this Administration."

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Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.