WASHINGTON – At a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing today, Senator Maggie Hassan questioned Chief Chris Magnus – nominee to be the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – about border security, taking action against drug trafficking, and prioritizing U.S.-Canada travel and trade.
To watch the Senator’s questioning, click here.
Senator Hassan began by discussing border enforcement. She asked Chief Magnus if he “agree[s] that individuals charged with serious crimes, not just those with prior convictions, can pose a threat to public safety” and that DHS personnel can detain individuals who are a threat to security or public safety. Chief Magnus agreed with Senator Hassan on both counts.
Senator Hassan also asked the nominee how he would combat drug trafficking that is contributing to the substance misuse epidemic in New Hampshire and across the country.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection has an important role in disrupting international drug smuggling operations and interdicting the flow of drugs and money across the U.S. border,” said Senator Hassan. “Transnational criminal organizations are adapting and exploiting predictable procedures at U.S borders. They use rail transportation, pedestrians, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and even submersible vessels to smuggle drugs into the United States.”
Senator Hassan asked Chief Magnus what he will do to respond to these threats. Chief Magnus responded that “this battle has to be fought on multiple fronts… I think we also have to use every available means at our ports of entry where we know the great majority of these drugs are coming across, to use technology and other resources more effectively to address these drugs. And then there’s the area… related to e-commerce, where we know that there are many opioids and pre-cursors of such that are coming through these small packages and many times through the Postal Service because of relationships that are complicated involving China.”
Chief Magnus also stated that CBP plays an important role in enforcing the STOP Act, a bipartisan bill that Senator Hassan helped to pass into law that addresses this very issue by curbing the shipment of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic drugs that are being sent through the mail. In March, Senator Hassan successfully pushed DHS to fully implement this bill.
Following the announcement of the reopening of the U.S.-Canada border, which Senator Hassan pushed for, the Senator asked Chief Magnus how he will prioritize CBP’s role in facilitating the flow of legitimate commerce and travel: “The reopening of the Canadian border to vaccinated individuals is an important and long overdue step… How familiar are you with CBP’s important trade mission, and how will you prioritize and manage that mission?” Chief Magnus confirmed that he is committed to working on this.