The office of the vice president confirmed to the Washington Examiner last week that two of Kamala Harris’ top aides on travel would be resigning from their posts in the Biden administration.
According to the Examiner‘s reporting, the departures of Karly Satkowiak and Gabrielle DeFranceschi, Harris’ director of advance and deputy director of advance, respectively, had long been planned.
Still, they raise eyebrows, particularly as Harris just days ago returned from a much-anticipated — and highly criticized — trip to the U.S.–Mexico border near El Paso.
Harris on the move
It’s unclear how long Satkowiak and DeFranceschi had been working for Harris ahead of their planned departure. In their roles at the VP’s office, they worked to “plan the vice president’s travel and work with teams to prepare venues for Harris’ arrival,” the Examiner reported.
The White House is now said to be seeking new “advance associates” to work with Harris on a volunteer level, the Examiner said.
The change in staff will come weeks after two of Harris’ first major trips as vice president: one to Central America, where she met with leaders from Guatemala and Mexico in hopes of addressing the “root causes” of an ongoing migration crisis at the U.S. southern border, and one to El Paso, where she “toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility” and spoke with migrant girls there, NPR reported.
On the former trip, Harris had urged residents of Central American nations against making the trek to the U.S., saying she wanted to instead give them hope that “if they stay, help is on the way,” according to NPR. It’s a message that failed to resonate with progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who reminded that “seeking asylum at any U.S. border is a 100% legal method of arrival.”
“Second, the U.S. spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing,” the New York Democrat added, according to The Guardian.
“A true picture”
Harris similarly failed to impress critics at the border in Texas, even after weeks of Republicans and even some Democrats begging her to visit and see the crisis firsthand. According to Breitbart, it wasn’t until 93 days after President Joe Biden tasked her with leading the White House’s diplomatic efforts to curb recent surges in migration that Harris actually visited the border.
And when she did, it seemed to many to be more theater than anything else.
“I’m sure her planners told her that if you’re going to go down to the border, go to something that’s safer to go to, that is, politically safer,” Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar said last week amid criticism that Harris had visited one of few areas along the border where the crisis is being well-managed, as the Examiner reported.
“The epicenter is down there in the Lower Rio Grande, the lower part of my district down there,” Cuellar complained. “If you look at the numbers that are down there compared to El Paso, you’re not going to get a true picture of what’s happening.”