Top U.S. border official John Sanders to step down, deepening DHS turmoil

Texas Tribune News

John Sanders, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is resigning, adding to staffing changes at the Department of Homeland Security. He had the role for two months.
John Sanders, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is resigning, adding to staffing changes at the Department of Homeland Security. He had the role for two months.
Charles Csavossy/CBP/Handout via REUTERS

John Sanders, the country’s top border security official, will resign from his job as acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection next month, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and a message sent to CBP staff Tuesday.

His resignation continues a dizzying pattern of personnel changes at DHS that have come in the middle of a border crisis triggered by the biggest migration surge in more than a decade.

Sanders has served in his job as acting CBP commissioner for barely two months. He was named to the role after President Donald Trump removed then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from the department and replaced her with then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.

CBP officials have not publicly announced Sanders’ departure. One DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the move said the resignation was not related to recent controversies over the treatment of underage migrants in U.S. custody along the border.

Sanders had been pushing in recent weeks for an expansion of temporary holding facilities that could accommodate the growing number of underage mothers with infants who are being held in U.S. Border Patrol facilities because there is no room for them in shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“As some of you are aware, yesterday I offered my resignation to Secretary McAleenan, effective Friday, July 5,” Sanders wrote in a message to staff. “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.”

Sanders’ resignation plans were first reported by The New York Times.

A former technology executive, Sanders had a reputation as a low-key and nonpartisan figure at CBP. He served under McAleenan as CBP chief operating officer and before that worked at the Transportation Security Administration.