". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘Infighting’ and ‘Ineffectiveness’: New Report Torches Biden Admin’s Border Policies

February 14, 2024

The Biden administration has been rocked with bitter infighting over border security failures, according to insiders. Axios reported this week on a meeting aboard Air Force One in which President Joe Biden “exploded with fury” at senior staff and aides over the illegal immigration crisis at the nation’s southern border. “The president lit into his team,” Alex Thompson wrote. “He demanded obscure immigration data points — and vented when his staff didn’t have them handy.” Later on, “Biden’s fury subsided, and aides scrambled for the information he wanted. People in the meeting later told others in frustration that his winding process and irritability were making it more difficult to reach decisions about the border.”

Personnel present at the meeting on Air Force One reportedly relayed the events to Axios, which the news outlet wrote was “emblematic of the Biden administration’s struggle with the border crisis during the past three years — infighting, blame-shifting and indecision.” According to Axios’s story, “How Biden botched the border,” the president and senior administration officials have been inept and ineffective at controlling the illegal immigration crisis raging across America’s southern border.

Shortly after assuming office, Biden appointed Vice President Kamala Harris as his go-to border czar. But according to the Axios account, Harris “made clear to others in the administration that her responsibilities began and ended with the factors driving people to leave Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — the issue Biden had assigned her to examine. As the migration became more global, Harris’ team remained focused on the Northern Triangle and Mexico.” One former senior official said of Harris and her border duties, “She’s been at best ineffective, and at worst sporadically engaged and not seeing it was her responsibility. It’s an opportunity for her, and she didn’t fill the breach.”

As the article goes on to note, another Biden administration official who has let border control go to waste is National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, formerly Barack Obama’s policy director and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Sullivan has essentially farmed out border control responsibility to Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall, who Axios noted “had little experience on the issue.” According to the report, she once “asked an official on her team for a memo explaining the difference between refugees and asylum seekers,” shortly after being assigned to border duty.

One of the figures at the center of the immigration infighting, according to Axios, has been former Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, who formerly served as Obama’s national security advisor. Rice has reportedly been at odds with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra over the latter not establishing more child migrant shelters, a responsibility under the HHS’s purview. She has — again, reportedly — referred to Becerra as a “b*tch-ass” and, when Biden was reaming Becerra during a meeting, Rice passed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a note reading, “Don’t save him.” Rice has also “clashed” with Harris — ever since 2020, when both were being considered for the position of vice president — and Sherwood-Randall.

Despite the southern border’s present and catastrophic state of dereliction, Sherwood-Randall reportedly favors “tough enforcement of migration policies,” but such stringent measures are hampered or prevented by what Axios characterized as “[w]arring ideologies inside the White House and the Democratic Party.” The report noted that some officials wanted to enact and enforce policies to deter illegal entry into the U.S. but have been at odds with vocal lobbyists and activists from “outside the administration” who are nonetheless given a prominent platform to advocate “to reform asylum policies and expand legal pathways for migrants to stay in the U.S.” The result has been inconsistent and even contradictory policies and actions. Axios noted several examples:

  • “Biden stopped kicking out asylum seekers under Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, but for years continued to use pandemic-era restrictions known as Title 42 to send asylum seekers back to Mexico.
  • The administration extended temporary protections for Venezuelans in the U.S. — and weeks later, announced plans to deport Venezuelans for the first time in years.
  • Biden’s team stopped holding undocumented families in U.S. detention centers — a practice under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump — in favor of monitoring people using ankle bracelets and other technology.
  • Then, as conditions worsened, Biden considered restarting the detention program.”

“Many administration leaders treated the issue like a hot potato because it was politically thankless,” the report noted. “The idea that no one wanted to ‘own it’ came up repeatedly in interviews about the border crisis. … As the humanitarian conditions at the border have deteriorated and the politics surrounding immigration have become a thorn for Biden, he becomes scratchier when the issue comes up, according to current and former aides.” According to one former government official interviewed, there are “definite incentives” to avoiding the topic of illegal immigration with Biden. The official quipped, “If you’re the person briefing the president, you get to piss him off every day.”

Of note, the report describes how the Biden White House essentially gaslit the American public, issuing repeated assurances that there was no crisis at the border while, internally, various agency and administration officials expressed concerns over the surging number of illegal immigrants. For example, Axios noted, the White House “limited and pushed against” Mayorkas and other Homeland Security officials appearing on television to discuss the border. “Publicly,” the report continued, “the White House also initially downplayed jumps in illegal border crossings as normal ‘ebbs and flows’ — even as some internally pushed to acknowledge that the problem was significant.”

As of the beginning of this month, the Biden administration’s border policies have already allowed over one million illegal immigrants into the U.S. during the current fiscal year. The illegal immigration crisis has also surpassed inflation and the economy as the most important issue for voters.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.