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.