WASHINGTON — Roberta S. Jacobson, the previous ambassador to Mexico whom President Biden selected as his “border czar” on the Nationwide Safety Council, will step down on the finish of the month, she mentioned on Friday, even because the administration struggles to confront a surge of migrants on the nation’s southwestern border.
Ms. Jacobson, who had been described as one of many Biden administration’s key gamers in coping with the governments within the Northern Triangle space of Central America, praised what she referred to as Mr. Biden’s efforts to restore and recast the nation’s immigration system after 4 years below President Donald J. Trump.
“They proceed to drive towards the structure that the president has laid out: an immigration system that’s humane, orderly and protected,” she mentioned in a quick interview. “I depart optimistically. The coverage route is so clearly proper for our nation.”
Ms. Jacobson mentioned that her appointment as a particular assistant to the president and because the border coordinator within the White Home was at all times meant to final for under about 100 days — a interval that can expire on the finish of April, when she intends to depart authorities.
The timing of her departure is nonetheless placing, coming in the course of the administration’s efforts to scale back the stream of immigration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Ms. Jacobson had been charged with main that effort when her appointment was introduced this yr.
Republican critics say that Mr. Biden’s resolution to rapidly reverse most of the harshest Trump-era immigration insurance policies in his first days in workplace has inspired a brand new wave of migration from Central America, together with households and kids touring to the border alone.
Biden administration officers, together with Ms. Jacobson, have argued that the elevated stream of migration must be addressed at its supply: primarily in Central American nations the place violence, warfare, poverty, gangs and pure disasters are forcing folks to flee their properties for refuge in the USA.
However her function as one of many administration’s prime border officers was eclipsed late final month when Mr. Biden introduced that Vice President Kamala Harris would lead the federal government’s diplomatic efforts with that area.
Within the interview, Ms. Jacobson mentioned the president’s transfer to place Ms. Harris answerable for the hassle to stem migration from Central America was not a think about her resolution to depart or her timing.
“I briefed and labored in assist of the vice chairman’s management on this problem,” Ms. Jacobson mentioned. “No one may very well be extra delighted to see the vice chairman tackle that function. It didn’t have something to do with my resolution.”
Two weeks in the past, in a separate interview with The New York Instances, Ms. Jacobson talked expansively about her plans to journey to Central America, the place she mentioned she anticipated to work with authorities officers on lowering the stream of migrants north towards the USA.
Final month, she traveled to Mexico to debate with leaders there methods to fight unlawful immigration and bolster shelter capability for migrants. Ms. Jacobson mentioned within the interview that the journey was additionally an try to search out methods to collaborate with Central American nations, in addition to probably Canada, to scale back strain on the USA border.
“I’d say that we’re — we’re having the beginnings of these conversations,” she mentioned. “However proper now, we’re targeted extra on how we will work with Mexico and the Northern Triangle nations.”
In early March, Ms. Jacobson confronted questions from reporters on the White Home and sought to discourage migrants from journeying to the USA. She echoed the administration’s message that the border with Mexico remained closed.
However when she tried to translate that blunt message into Spanish, she unintentionally reversed its that means, saying, “La frontera no esta cerrada,” which in English is “the border is just not closed.” Later within the briefing, she corrected herself, translating the message appropriately.
Mr. Biden’s resolution to place Ms. Harris answerable for Central American diplomacy was seen on the time as an effort by the White Home to ship a message that the administration was taking the border problem critically.
It additionally served as the primary substantive coverage directive for the vice chairman, who has been at Mr. Biden’s facet since they took workplace however had not been given oversight of any specific a part of the Biden agenda.
Jake Sullivan, the president’s nationwide safety adviser, mentioned in a press release that “there was no particular person higher to usher in a extra protected, safe and simply strategy to our southern border” than Ms. Jacobson.
He mentioned she leaves the administration “having formed our relationship with Mexico as an equal companion, having launched our renewed efforts with the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and having underscored this administration’s dedication to re-energizing the U.S. immigration system.”
Ms. Jacobson mentioned that she remained assured that the administration would proceed to make progress in persuading the leaders of Mexico and the Central American nations to work with the USA to gradual the tempo of migration.
“They know it’s one thing that may’t occur in a single day,” she mentioned of her colleagues within the Biden administration. However she added that officers within the different nations have been motivated to search out options, as nicely.
“Diplomacy is a dialog,” she mentioned. “It’s not a monologue.”