Acting CBP Chief to Resign amid Backlash over Treatment of Detained Migrants

A U.S. Border Patrol agent at the U.S.-Mexican border near Calexico, Calif., in 2017. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

John Sanders, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will resign in the coming weeks as the public outcry over the treatment of detained migrants at the southern border continues to escalate, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Sanders has served as CBP commissioner since President Trump appointed Kevin McAleenan to serve as acting secretary of homeland security following the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen in April.

News of the resignation comes as harrowing reports of unsanitary conditions at CBP holding facilities continue to emerge.

More than 300 children were removed from a CBP holding facility outside El Paso, Texas on Tuesday after a group of lawyers visiting the facility said children there hadn’t been bathed in days and often went to bed hungry, the Associated Press reported.

The attorneys’ reports added increased urgency to administration officials’ requests for additional funding to adequately shelter and provide medical care to the record 144,000 asylum-seekers who arrived at the border in the month of May, and those who continue to arrive each day.

In response to those calls, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that the Senate will vote this week on a $4.5 billion aid package designed to allocate more resources to CBP and the Department of Health and Human Services, which assumes responsibility for detained migrants after they are processed by CBP.

If passed, the funding will go toward increased manpower, medical care, and courtroom space to facilitate the processing of asylum claims. But the legislation’s passage has been imperiled by a companion bill, advanced by House Democrats, that places restrictions on allocating funding toward Department of Defense enforcement mechanisms and increased detention beds, and instead calls for more counselors and other humanitarian measures.

The White House criticized the House bill on Tuesday, saying it would “hamstring” enforcement capabilities, thereby increasing the population of asylum-seekers currently overwhelming federal resources.

“After ignoring the Administration’s request for desperately needed funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the border for over a month, and despite the efforts of the House minority, the House majority has put forward a partisan bill that underfunds necessary accounts and seeks to take advantage of the current crisis by inserting policy provisions that would make our country less safe,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in a statement. “Because this bill does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis, and because it contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts, the Administration opposes its passage.”

Update 5:06p.m.: Mark Morgan, acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, will replace John Sanders as Border Patrol chief, the Washington Post reported Tuesday afternoon.

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