Report: Biden's Border Security Head Takes Internal Flak for Literally Sleeping on the Job

'He's not in the game,' administration official tells Politico

CBP commissioner Chris Magnus /Getty Images
October 17, 2022

President Joe Biden's Customs and Border Protection commissioner, an advocate for "sanctuary city" policies, is taking criticism from within the administration for being detached from his job, failing to address the country's mounting border crisis, and even falling asleep during meetings, Politico reported Monday.

Chris Magnus, whom Biden nominated in April 2021 to lead CBP, often skips White House meetings on the border, is unfamiliar with CBP's operations, and has failed to coordinate within his agency and across the Biden administration to stanch a record influx of illegal migrants, five officials who work with Magnus told Politico.

As migrant encounters at the southern border reached a record two million in the fiscal year that ended last month, Magnus has placed blame on other agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, during high-level meetings with the Biden administration, officials told Politico. The officials also said Magnus has been largely uninterested in the out-of-control situation at the border, instead prioritizing efforts to reform "the culture of the Border Patrol, addressing its long list of allegations of racism and violence."

"He's not in the game," one administration official told Politico. "Every time there's a meeting and he's in it, we'll get to a conclusion and Magnus will have some sidebar issue that he wants to raise and we're all like 'What the fuck is that about?'"

Magnus's critics also told Politico they've seen Magnus fall asleep during important meetings, including one focused on the influx of Venezuelans illegally crossing the border.

Magnus defended his tenure at CBP to Politico, telling the outlet he's "closely involved in the major … policy discussions." He said he's fallen asleep in meetings because it's a side effect of his multiple sclerosis. Magnus also charged that he's faced internal criticism because he's "always been someone who aggressively questions the status quo," and "some people are threatened by this."

The commissioner, formerly the police chief in Tucson, Ariz., faced broad Republican opposition after Biden nominated him to helm CBP. Magnus defended "sanctuary cities" in a 2017 New York Times op-ed and was a frequent critic of the Trump administration's border policies.