A former senior Biden official had some not-so-flattering things to say about Vice President Kamala Harris’ handling of the border crisis. Indeed, according to a recent Axios report, infighting and a distinct lack of cohesion have resulted in the White House’s inability to come up with solutions for the problems at the southern border.
An Axios report highlighted a spicy meeting between President Joe Biden and some key members of his immigration team.
Aboard Air Force One en route to tour the southern border in January 2023, President Biden sat at the head of his conference table and exploded with fury.
The president lit into his team, which included then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, Homeland Security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall and other immigration officials. He demanded obscure immigration data points — and vented when his staff didn’t have them handy.
Why it matters: The previously unreported meeting, recounted to Axios by three people familiar with the events, is emblematic of the Biden administration’s struggle with the border crisis during the past three years — infighting, blame-shifting and indecision.
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.
The report suggests that Harris and her team sought to distance themselves from dealing with the border crisis, insisting 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.”
Apparently, Harris wasn’t too effective at even doing anything about these “root causes” of the border crisis. A former senior official in the Biden administration criticized the vice president for her failure to do anything productive to address the border crisis.
A former Biden administration senior official told Axios: “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.”
Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice has also clashed with Harris and other members of the administration.
Rice also clashed repeatedly with Sherwood-Randall and had tension with Vice President Harris, according to people familiar with the dynamics.
The tension between Rice and Harris had origins in the summer of 2020, when both were being vetted for vice president. Rice later told people she thought Harris and her team were partly responsible for opposition research that resulted in negative coverage of Rice.
Rice appeared to others to take pride in being more informed on the border than Harris.
There is nothing in the report that is surprising. The Biden administration’s approach to the border crisis and immigration overall has been marked by clashes between members of his team, with some preferring a more open borders stance and others pursuing a more moderate approach.
Taking all of this into account, it is not difficult to discern why this administration has failed so miserably when it comes to addressing immigration. Unfortunately, it appears the issues in the White House are not going to subside anytime soon, which means there won’t be any solutions to the border crisis forthcoming.