Biden border nominee refuses to call migrant surge a 'crisis,' claims no 'ready-to-go plan' to solve it

Chris Magnus said he takes the situation very seriously, 'regardless of what we call it'

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President Biden’s pick to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Chris Magnus, would not call the surge of migrants crossing the southern border a crisis, but he acknowledged that it is a "very serious" matter for which he provided no solution.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday, the former Tucson, Arizona police chief was asked by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., if the border situation had reached crisis level.

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"Let me assure you that no one believes there is greater urgency to this matter than I do," Magnus replied.

This led Young to say that "urgent strikes the common ear as less than a crisis," before asking, "Are you saying there is not a crisis at the border?"

Young said that, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 1.3 million migrants have crossed the border.

"What number of illegal crossings would you consider to be a crisis?" he asked. "What if we were to quintuple that number, would you then call it a crisis?"

Magnus said that "the situation is very serious" and that "regardless of what we call it, it is something important to me."

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Despite noting the significance of the situation at the southern border, earlier in the hearing Magnus drew a blank when he was asked how he would go about fixing it.

Chris Magnus testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on his nomination to be the next U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

Chris Magnus testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on his nomination to be the next U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (Rod Lamkey/Pool via AP)

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said that if confirmed Magnus would be "walking into a chaotic situation" at the border where illegal crossings are skyrocketing, in addition to record increases in methamphetamine and fentanyl entering the country.

"What is your plan?" Lankford asked.

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"Of course, if there was a ready-to-go plan to address all the problems that you’ve just described, my guess is that not only CPB but you all as a body would have seen to it that it was implemented," Magnus responded. Rather than make any specific suggestions, he went on to say that building relationships and getting accurate information would be key to coming up with a plan.

Republicans had been concerned about Magnus due to his past support for sanctuary cities. During the hearing, he said that while "there have been some legitimate issues raised" regarding police detaining people without an arrest warrant, as CBP head his "primary role" would be "to enforce the law."