In the midst of handling the migrant crisis at the border, tensions within the White House have escalated, revealing a significant level of internal discord among President Joe Biden’s team. Susan Rice, formerly a top advisor to Biden, reportedly expressed severe criticisms of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, labeling him with derogatory terms due to his handling of the situation, particularly his failure to secure additional sheltering spaces for child migrants.
The friction extended beyond Rice and Becerra, involving Vice President Kamala Harris and Homeland Security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall, among others, with disputes centering around the administration’s approach to the border crisis. Rice’s dissatisfaction with Harris was particularly pointed, attributing to Harris a lack of leadership on immigration policy despite being appointed as Biden’s border czar. There were also suggestions that Harris played a role in undermining Rice’s potential selection as Biden’s running mate in 2020 by distributing damaging opposition research.
Amid these internal conflicts, President Biden himself demonstrated frustration over the crisis. During a meeting aboard Air Force One in January 2023, Biden reportedly lost his temper with his staff over their inability to provide specific immigration data he requested, highlighting the growing pressure to address the border situation effectively.
The administration’s struggle with the migrant crisis has been marked by what some describe as missed opportunities and sporadic engagement by Harris, with criticism focusing on her effectiveness and engagement level. This period has also been characterized by indecision and policy contradictions, as the administration has grappled with the challenges of managing the influx of asylum seekers at the border.
Despite these challenges, a White House spokesman emphasized Biden’s pride in his team’s efforts to tackle what he described as “unprecedented challenges” associated with the border crisis. The administration’s response has included the implementation of programs aimed at managing the situation, such as the parole program for migrants from specific countries, even as debates over the best path forward continue to unfold within the administration.