The White House is bracing for a worsening situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as President Biden faces criticism from both political parties over the influx of migrant children.
Biden’s No. 1 priority remains the coronavirus pandemic. But the flow of asylum-seekers threatens to overwhelm the country’s immigration system after it was overhauled by former President Donald Trump in ways that irritated Democrats.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was dispatched this week to brief reporters at the White House, repeatedly blaming Trump’s administration for the country’s immigration predicament and warning it would “take time” to undo its “cruelty.”
The White House also picked first lady Jill Biden to be the public face of its family reunification task force. Using the first lady allows the White House to provide political cover to other officials who likely have future political aspirations that could be harmed by delving into such a tricky issue as immigration, chiefly Vice President Kamala Harris. She could well be the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential nominee, should Biden opt against another run.
Using Jill Biden also allows the administration to use her national popularity — 57% of those polled last month by Gallup had a favorable opinion of her versus 22% with a negative view — to tackle a hot-button issue.