Roberta Jacobson: White House border coordinator to retire at end of April

A former ambassador to Mexico appointed by Joe Biden to coordinate federal efforts at the US-Mexico border will step down from her role, the White House announced on Friday.

Roberta Jacobson served as special assistant to the president and coordinator for the southwest border under the National Security Council. Her 100-day role was intended to conclude by the end of April, when she will retire from government, according to the White House.

Her departure follows intense scrutiny over the rise in unaccompanied minors to the US-Mexico border and a strained federal response to provide aid and shelter, as Mr Biden directs administration officials to repair a fractured immigration system in the wake of Donald Trump’s administration.

In a statement, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Ms Jacobson has “shaped our relationship with Mexico as an equal partner, having launched our renewed efforts with the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and having underscored this administration’s commitment to reenergizing the US immigration system. “

Vice President Kamala Harris has been tapped to coordinate efforts among Central American countries as part of a White House effort to improve conditions that have driven the recent rise in immigration to the US, including humanitarian crises around poverty, violence, Covid-19 and its economic fallout, and several devastating hurricanes.

The White House has focused on stemming the root causes of migration under duress, as US Customs and Border Protection reports that more than 172,000 people were taken into its federal law enforcement custody at the border within the month of March.

More than 18,000 teenagers and children arrived without parents. The administration has reversed a Trump-era policy to return children, most of whom are seeking to meet family or other connections in the US, according to immigrant advocacy and refugee groups, and house them in emergency shelters through FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The administration has struggled to keep up the pace of support, with children and teens spending an average of 135 hours in law enforcement custody rather than inside public health or emergency facilities.

Seeking asylum upon entry at the US-Mexico border is legal, but Mr Biden has kept in place a public health law through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expel migrants crossing without legal permission.

The order was used under the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic.

Roughly 103,000 people were processed under that order last month.

Ms Jacobson travelled to Mexico last month to meet with officials about shelter capacity and other efforts to reduce pressure on US border facilities.

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