Biden immigration policy aides to depart amid criticism of new migration policy

Biden immigration policy aides to depart amid criticism of new migration policy

Two White House officials involved in crafting immigration policy are preparing to depart as the Biden administration rolls out new asylum restrictions that critics say mirror those from the Trump era.

Lise Clavel, deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser for migration, and Leidy Perez-Davis, special assistant to the president for immigration, are set to leave the White House, according to two sources familiar with the plans. Clavel’s last day will be March 1, but Perez-Davis was asked by the White House to delay her departure and will leave in a couple months, according to a person familiar with the plan but was not authorized to speak publicly.

Both Clavel and Perez-Davis have been in their roles for roughly a year. Clavel has been with the administration since the start, previously serving as chief of staff at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection before moving to the White House. She was on a one-year detail with the White House and stayed longer than intended, a White House official noted. Perez-Davis, who was previously policy director at the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, is departing for family reasons, the official said.

Both exits are unrelated to the administration’s policy rollout this week, a White House official said.

Staff departures from any administration are common following a midterm election. But news of the impending exits comes days after the Biden administration announced its most restrictive border control measure to date: a proposed rule that will bar some migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they cross the border illegally or fail to first apply for safe harbor in another country. The proposal — which immigrant advocates refer to as the “transit ban” or the “asylum ban” — will take effect on May 11 and serve as its policy solution to the long-awaited end of Title 42, a pandemic-era restriction that lifts the same day.

The policy prompted immediate backlash from immigrant advocates and Democrats who accused the White House of perpetuating a Donald Trump-like approach to border politics that President Joe Biden pledged on the campaign trail to end. Advocacy groups also said they were considering lawsuits.

Amid the blowback, administration officials criticized Congress, arguing that the White House has been left to roll out new policies to fill the “void” left by inaction on the Hill.

“To be clear, this was not our first preference or even our second. From day one, Biden has urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures to ensure orderly, safe and humane processing of migrants at our border,” a senior administration official said in a call with reporters on Tuesday.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the departures.

Clavel and Perez-Davis’ exit from the administration are just the latest changes on Biden’s team handling migration and the border in his first two years. Tyler Moran, Biden’s senior adviser for migration, left in January 2022, after replacing Amy Pope the previous summer. Esther Olavarria, the deputy assistant to the president for immigration at the Domestic Policy Council, also retired that month.

Roberta Jacobson, Biden’s “border czar” left in April 2021, and some mid and low-level aides have also departed.

Jason Houser, who POLITICO reported was preparing to depart as chief of staff at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will also leave in the coming days. He was the highest-ranking political appointee at the DHS agency since there is no Senate-confirmed director.

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Author: By Myah Ward