As the situation at the southern border continues to escalate to crisis proportions, it appears that the White House is taking steps to shield one of its key assets from the rising political heat.
Despite earlier indications that she would be taking the lead on an administration migrant family reunification initiative, the Daily Wire reports that first lady Dr. Jill Biden is now backing away from the previously announced role altogether.
Late last month, the Washington Examiner noted that Mrs. Biden had been tapped to be the public-facing voice of a family reunification task force, in what some saw as a way to capitalize on her popularity, then pegged at roughly 57% favorability, according to a Gallup survey, and to provide political cover for other administration members who have future designs on higher office.
At the time, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas hailed the move, saying that the first lady “has driven us to action through her personal commitment to this moral imperative,” adding:
…that moral imperative is to reunite the families and restore them to the fullest capacity that we, as the United States government, can do.
According to reporting from Forbes, sources close to the matter confirmed that Mrs. Biden, “alongside her East Wing staff” would have an “active role” in the reunification process, a decision the first lady made after a visit late last year to an asylum camp for migrants impacted by former President Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy.
Politico now reports, however, that Mrs. Biden will play “no formal role” in initiatives designed to reunite migrant children with their families, something which has disappointed immigration activists, with one advocate telling the outlet, “I’m a little worried it’s deprioritized or viewed as politically sensitive.”
The first lady’s own staffers have taken pains to assert – despite Mayorkas’ earlier suggestion to the contrary – that she had never been given an official position related to this issue, saying:
The work of the task force is being led by the Department of Homeland Security. As the task force is an interagency task force, with members comprised of representatives from the relevant federal government agencies, the First Lady does not have any formal role.
The Biden administration’s decision to backpedal on putting the first lady in the middle of an increasingly volatile political issue is not terribly surprising, especially in light of recently released photos and witness accounts that lay bare the deteriorating conditions under which migrant youth in massive numbers are being held.
As the migrant surge resulting from the reversal of Trump-era immigration policy continues to spiral out of control, it may indeed be possible to protect Mrs. Biden from the worsening fallout, but hopefully the decision-makers who bear ultimate responsibility for this disaster will not be similarly spared.