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Wyden delays key Biden immigration nominee until he gets more info on Portland unrest response

Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he's unable to advance the nomination of Tucson, Arizona, Police Chief Chris Magnus to serve as Customs and Border Protection commissioner 'until DHS and DOJ give Oregonians some straight answers about what they were up to in Portland last year, and who was responsible.'

Posted: Jul 22, 2021 12:43 PM

By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

(CNN) -- Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon will not advance President Joe Biden's pick to lead US Customs and Border Protection until he receives more answers about the agency's role in the Portland unrest last year, delaying a key nominee as the administration reevaluates border restrictions.

"Six months into the new administration, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have failed to answer basic questions about how the Trump administration misused federal resources to stoke violence against peaceful protesters in my hometown," Wyden said in a statement.

Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he's unable to advance the nomination of Tucson, Arizona, Police Chief Chris Magnus to serve as Customs and Border Protection commissioner "until DHS and DOJ give Oregonians some straight answers about what they were up to in Portland last year, and who was responsible." The committee has jurisdiction over the Customs and Border Protection commissioner.

The delay forced by Wyden means that Customs and Border Protection, which was confronted with an increase of migrants at the US-Mexico border this year that led to overcrowded facilities and unaccompanied children staying in custody for extended periods, will continue to be led by acting leadership for the foreseeable future. The agency is also charged with implementing an array of border restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tensions grew in Portland last summer after federal officers arrived in the city, which had experienced prolonged and at times violent protests over demands for racial justice and police accountability. A DHS inspector general report released this year found that the department had surged hundreds of federal agents to Portland with incomplete training and missing equipment.

At the time, Wyden had sought answers from then-Attorney General William Barr and former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about the deployment of federal officers, calling the response on the ground "intolerable."

After Biden took office, Wyden followed up his previous requests for information in a pair of June letters to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland, reiterating his concerns about the lack of adequate training and on-the-ground coordination among agencies. The questions are similar to those first raised last year but remain unanswered, according to Wyden, who cited some previous responses in his letters.

"The White House was notified on June 11 of what was needed to have a hearing on Magnus. As they have not provided it, Sen. Wyden informed the administration this week he would not be able to hold a hearing until his questions are sufficiently answered," a Wyden aide said.

Customs and Border Protection, currently helmed by acting Commissioner Troy Miller, is one of the three immigration agencies under DHS operating with acting leadership, until those selected to lead are confirmed by the Senate. It's become familiar territory for each agency after rotating leadership under Trump. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is currently led by career official Tae Johnson, never had a Senate-confirmed director during the four years of the Trump administration.

Last Thursday, Biden's pick for ICE director, Ed Gonzalez, testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in a step toward possible confirmation. Gonzalez, who was elected sheriff of Harris County, Texas, in 2016, has a decades-long career in law enforcement, according to his biography.

Ur Jaddou, who was selected to serve as US Citizenship and Immigration Services director, also already had her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was voted on favorably. She's now on the Senate executive calendar. Jaddou was chief counsel at the agency under President Barack Obama and led the Biden-Harris DHS transition review team.

Still missing on the calendar is Magnus, whose nomination is now stalled.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 5107717

Reported Deaths: 74800
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153472027244
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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