Must-Read New Yorker Article by Jonathan Blitzer featuring Andrea Flores
Washington, DC – A must-read article in the New Yorker, by longtime immigration chronicler Jonathan Blitzer, tells the story of the Biden Administration’s disappointing first year on immigration and border measures through the lens of former White House National Security Council staffer and immigration expert Andrea Flores.
Read Jonathan Blitzer’s New Yorker story, “The Disillusionment of a Young Biden Official” in full online and find key excerpts below:
“From the start of Biden’s Presidency, Republicans have accused him of being too lax at the border. Last year, as apprehensions by Border Patrol increased, the attacks intensified. Some White House officials began to question the political wisdom of the President’s agenda … This past fall, Flores left the Administration; other high-profile departures followed. According to three current and former Administration officials, the resistance to easing Trump-era restrictions came from the very top of the White House chain of command: Ron Klain, the chief of staff; Susan Rice, the head of the Domestic Policy Council; and Jake Sullivan, the national-security adviser. ‘None of them is an immigration expert,’ one of the officials told me. ‘The immigration experts who were brought in—all those people are not the ones controlling the policy direction. That should tell you something right there. The ones who are at the highest level are political people.’
…[O]ne of the last times that I spoke to Flores at length was right before the holidays, during a pileup of more bad news … Flores was angry and exasperated, but I was struck by her absence of bitterness. She could speak for hours, and in full, ordered paragraphs, about policy mistakes she felt that she was observing—’the opportunities I saw them not take,’ as she put it. But she also didn’t think that it was too late for Biden to revive his earlier vision. Her relentlessness on this point brought to mind something one of her former White House colleagues told me: ‘Her significance was that she could see around the corner, beyond the issue of the day. There’s no one doing that on M.P.P. or Title 42 currently. Every day that goes by with M.P.P. in place is a day when they forget what they intended to do, and what they said they’d do. There is an alternative path forward.’”
According to Vanessa Cardenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
The Biden-Harris Administration started off with great promise on immigration, intent on replacing Trump’s cruelty, chaos, and transition to a safe, humane, and orderly process to follow U.S. and international law. But after a strong start, they allowed the predictable nativist right wing and Republican attacks to spook them. Despite the advice and expertise of immigration experts inside the administration they reverted back to failed ‘Republican-light’ strategies of past Democratic administrations. The American public favors the well-reasoned policy solutions Biden started with, but the President and his team are walking away from popular and sensible approaches while Republicans are blasting tweets and ads about immigration every single day.
Now, at the start of year two of the Biden Administration, the best way forward on policy is also the best way forward politically: stop buying into the fact-free ‘border crisis’ frame of mind; offer a clear alternative to Republicans’ cruelty and chaos by establishing a workable legal system for asylum seekers, refugees, families and workers; articulate how addressing root causes and providing regular channels for migration can help alleviate irregular migration; and lean into legal immigration and legal status for undocumented immigrants to contrast with Republican obstruction and to strengthen our economy and deliver on the president’s promises.