Susan Rice's Departure Shows Continuity of Bipartisan Consensus of Punitive Treatment of MigrantsBreaking News
tags: immigration, Border Patrol, INS, Migrant Detention
It’s a White House shake-up that could have a major impact on the presidential campaign to come: Susan Rice, President Joe Biden’s long-serving domestic policy chief, is leaving the White House, per a Monday morning from NBC News. Rice’s departure will put at least one significant matter in flux, as her legacy on the immigration policy portfolio extends through two Democratic presidencies. Before joining the Biden White House, she chaired the National Security Council under President Barack Obama. During this long tenure, her actions have put her at odds with migrant rights advocates, who may be inclined to welcome some fresh thinking.
Rice famously cleansed her West Wing office with burning sage after Biden’s team moved in in the weeks following the January 6 Capitol riot. The office’s previous occupant was Stephen Miller, Donald Trump’s controversial immigration czar behind four years of wildly xenophobic policies like the ill-fated Muslim ban and separating migrant parents from their children at the border. But migrant advocates might have hoped for a more significant improvement on the Trump White House: “She was one of the most anti-immigrant folks in the administration,” said immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola of Rice.
The criticism isn’t unfounded. Rather than undo Miller’s work, Rice has assiduously doubled down on some of Trump’s most impactful anti-immigrant policies, most notably the administration’s support for Title 42—the shambolic policy Donald Trump used to expel migrants as public health threats during the pandemic.
“They are panicked,” said a former Biden official who declined to be named for this story of the Rice-led domestic policy council. “All they care about is keeping the number down,” the source continued about the daily reports from the Homeland Security Department about encounters of migrants at the border.
Rice, along with national security advisor Jake Sullivan, have formed a bulwark against migrant relief policies while fighting to preserve—and lately, build upon—Miller’s restrictionist legacy in the West Wing. As a result, Biden’s White House has struggled to retain Latina staffers assigned to its immigration policy portfolio. In February, Politico reported Lise Clavel, deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser for migration, and Leidy Perez-Davis, special assistant to the president for immigration, were jumping ship in the days after the White House announced severe new restrictions on asylum-seekers.