Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders is resigning amid heightened scrutiny over the administration’s treatment of migrant children detained in facilities along the southern border.
Sanders’ exit, which he confirmed Tuesday in an email to CBP employees, marks the latest high-profile departure at President Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. It creates a new leadership vacuum atop the nation’s chief border enforcement agency as it struggles to quell a surge in Central American migrants entering the U.S. through Mexico.
Story Continued Below
“As some of you are aware, yesterday I offered my resignation to Secretary McAleenan, effective Friday, July 5,” Sanders wrote in his staff-wide email.
“In that letter, I quoted a wise man who said to me, ‘each man will judge their success by their own metrics,’” he continued. “Although I will leave it to you to determine whether I was successful, I can unequivocally say that helping support the amazing men and women of CBP has been the most fulfilling and satisfying opportunity of my career.”
News of Sanders’ resignation, first reported by the New York Times, comes hours after the administration on Tuesday returned more than 100 migrant children to a Border Patrol facility outside El Paso, Texas, that had been criticized for its lack of resources and unsanitary conditions, according to the Associated Press. It is unclear if Sanders’ departure is related to the growing controversy.
“Throughout our journey together, your determination and can-do attitude made the real difference. It allowed CBP to accomplish what others thought wasn’t possible…what others weren’t able to do,” Sanders wrote in his email Tuesday.
He added: “This is your organization…own it! Don’t underestimate the power of momentum as you continue to tackle some of this country’s most difficult challenges.”
The House is scheduled to vote later Tuesday on a $4.5 billion emergency measure to fund the federal refugee office, a contentious piece of legislation that has divided Democrats in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s caucus who are vehemently opposed to Trump’s immigration agenda.
Top administration officials in recent days have lamented the conditions of detained child migrants and argued for speedy passage of the spending bill.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday described the facilitates operated by Customs and Border Protection as “overwhelmed” on Fox News.
Mark Morgan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reported Tuesday that border patrol stations are “overcrowded,” with hundreds of children in “unsafe conditions” at various centers.
“We do want kids out of those facilities. Kids should not be in those facilities,” Morgan told Fox News.
Sanders was appointed CBP chief after Trump named the agency’s former head, Kevin McAleenan, to become his next Homeland Security secretary following the April ouster of Kirstjen Nielsen.