White House immigration advisory team undergoes notable adjustments

 May 5, 2024

The staff advising the Biden administration on key immigration-related issues is undergoing a bit of a transformation amid news of recent additions.

As The Hill reports, the team recently recruited Blas Nunez-Neto to serve as a border enforcement policy leader and economic development guru Marcela Escobari, who decided to leave her prior position at USAID.

Escobari's big move

The hiring of Escobari is seen as evidence of the administration's efforts to address unprecedented volumes of migration from Central and South America, as Axios explains.

According to the outlet, Escobari has spent years working on international development matters relating to Latin America, and she will now bring that experience to the White House, specifically the National Security Council.

Escobari was raised in Bolivia before arriving in the United States, and she is slated to be the point person at the NSC for what is known as the Los Angeles Declaration, a multinational agreement designed to facilitate cooperation on migration-related issues.

In making the switch, Escobar leaves her prior role as Assistant Administrator of USAID's Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Escobar is stepping into the shoes of Kate Tobin, who departed the administration earlier in 2024, and who had been responsible for many of Biden's border efforts from the start of his term in office.

Border enforcement in the spotlight

Nunez-Neto's path to his new administration role came via his tenure at the Department of Homeland Security, where he was the assistant secretary for border immigration policy.

He also served as a top negotiator on the ultimately unsuccessful attempt at a bipartisan immigration deal in the Senate.

A native of Argentina, Nunez-Neto is viewed as someone willing to seek middle ground on immigration and someone well-versed in border enforcement policy, something which has drawn criticism from immigration activists.

Nunez-Neto's experience includes formulating the Biden administration's approach to the end of Title 42 removal procedures, which included a return to asylum policies similar to those implemented under former President Donald Trump.

Commenting on Nunez-Neto's tenure, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he is “a remarkably talented and devoted colleague” and praised his “commanding knowledge of immigration policy and deep expertise in foreign relations.”

Election-year maneuvering?

With Biden facing substantial disapproval of his handling of the immigration crisis and more voters expressing greater openness to Trump-era policies, this shakeup may be part of a broader White House effort to convey a sense of urgency when it comes to curbing the record volume of border crossings seen in recent years.

Whether this re-shuffling will have any appreciable on voter sentiments as the November election draws closer or will reverse the negative assessment so many have of Biden's approach to date, however, only time will tell.

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