CV NEWS FEED // A “brutal” Axios report released Monday morning chronicled the many missteps by the Biden administration that have contributed to the intensifying crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The article penned by authors Alex Thompson and Stef W. Kight is titled “How Biden Botched the Border.”
“Aboard Air Force One en route to tour the southern border in January 2023, President [Joe] Biden sat at the head of his conference table and exploded with fury,” the piece began.
Thompson and Kight reported that Biden “lit into his team” of immigration officials and advisors. “He demanded obscure immigration data points — and vented when his staff didn’t have them handy.”
The authors stated that the president’s irritability was “emblematic of the Biden administration’s struggle with the border crisis during the past three years — infighting, blame-shifting and indecision.”
Just two months into his presidency, Biden tasked vice President Kamala Harris with managing the crisis – which the administration at the time dismissed as a “challenge.”
“When she speaks, she speaks for me,” the president said at the time.
However, Thompson and Kight wrote that according to a former senior administration official, Harris has “been at best ineffective, and at worst sporadically engaged and not seeing [the border] was her responsibility.”
The authors indicated that Biden and his National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan delegated a lot of the responsibility of managing the crisis to Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.
Per Thompson and Kight, Sherwood-Randall “had little experience on the issue.” They explained:
A sign of her inexperience came early on, when she asked an official on her team for a memo explaining the difference between refugees and asylum seekers, according to a person familiar with the request.
Sherwood-Randall previously served in the Obama administration’s Department of Energy (DOE). She worked primarily on foreign policy during and after the Clinton administration. None of her previous posts appear to contain much work associated with immigration policy.
In addition, the Axios authors stressed, “The White House generally didn’t want to talk publicly about immigration or the border for much of Biden’s first three years, feeling it would draw attention to a political vulnerability.”
As CatholicVote previously reported, Biden avoided the use of the word “crisis” to refer to the situation at the southern border for the first three years of his presidency.
“White House officials limited and pushed against having Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas or other immigration officials appear on TV until a few months ago,” Thompson and Kight went on:
Publicly, the White House also initially downplayed jumps in illegal border crossings as normal “ebbs and flows” — even as some internally pushed to acknowledge that the problem was significant.
“[T]he White House and DHS have worked together closely,” White House spokesperson Angelo Fernandez Hernandez told Axios, noting past media interviews and press conferences.
Later in the article, the authors highlighted the pervasive “infighting” they reported is taking place among various Biden administration officials responsible for the border crisis.
“There was — and still is — deep animosity toward Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for what was seen as his reluctance to find more space in child migrant shelters, which are overseen by HHS,” they wrote.
Thompson and Kight noted that Biden’s former Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice “referred to Becerra as a ‘bitch-ass’ and privately called him an ‘idiot,’ according to multiple sources.”
“During one meeting when Biden was tearing into Becerra, Rice passed [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas a note that read: ‘Don’t save him,’ according to two people familiar with the meeting,” they added:
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.
FOX News National Correspondent Bill Melugin wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the “brutal” Axios piece “highlights a combination of infighting, incompetence, and indifference regarding the [Biden] administration’s handling of the border over the last 3 years.”
The award-winning journalist is well known for his reporting on the nation’s ongoing border crisis.
Readers can find the full Axios article here.