DHS chief of staff tells Sec Mayorkas adios, steps aside for a professional to do the job

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

We wish it was the Secretary of Homeland Security himself that is resigning but no, it is his chief of staff. Karen Olick, chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, announced her resignation just months after accepting the job. She is leaving for another opportunity though that opportunity remains unknown.

Olick is a political appointee. She is a former chief of staff to former Sen. Barbara Boxer, and then spent more than a decade as a managing director at Democratic consulting firm SKDK. She had no experience working in DHS prior to becoming Mayorkas’ chief of staff. It is quite a big job, especially with the utter chaos we find on the southern border. She will be replaced, at least temporarily until a permanent choice is made, by a 20-year career civil servant, Jennifer Higgins. Higgins is currently the associate director of Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After reading the piece published by Politico, the resignation strikes me as one of Olick accepting that she is in over her head in her job. She is leaving and that provides an opportunity for a career professional in the department to take over. It is as though Olick sees the writing on the wall – history will not be kind to Mayorkas’ leadership at DHS and that will reflect poorly on the entire department. Thanks to open borders Joe and his top enabler Mayorkas, the Biden border crisis rages on with illegal migration at historically high numbers.

In an email, Mayorkas told DHS officials that Olick “has decided to resign her position and pursue new opportunities. We are grateful to Karen for her service during the critical first nine months of the new Administration.”

In a separate farewell note, Olick also said: “Though too often underappreciated by our fellow citizens, I am continually struck by how many millions of Americans sleep in safety every night because so many at DHS do not sleep.” Olick didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

It not only sounds like Olick is fleeing a sinking ship at DHS but she also sounds whiny that her “fellow citizens” don’t appreciate DHS (or maybe just her) enough. The truth is, outside of the elitist bubble in D.C., regular Americans very much appreciate DHS employees, especially Border Patrol and ICE agents. They are the ones doing the work on the ground that protects Americans day in and day out under imperfect circumstances. Olick’s boss goes out of his way to remain out of sight – using the bunker mentality approach that Team Biden has perfected – and she likely played a role in facilitating that. Mayorkas continues to deny the reality at the southern border, hides from visiting the border to see for himself the results of Biden’s failed policies.

DHS has even more on its plate now. The department is in charge of resettling thousands of Afghan refugees in the United States. It also is working to help in the response to the impacts of Hurricane Ida and heavy rain events in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast following the storm. DHS can’t get its first job done – securing and protecting our country’s borders – but its assignments keep increasing. In the private sector, heads would have rolled a long time ago.

Mayorkas himself admits privately what an unsustainable disaster the Biden border crisis is. After yet another report came out of historically high numbers of apprehensions at the southern border, not even including the ones who escape apprehension and go along their merry way, a leaked audio surfaced.

Leaked audio from last month revealed Mayorkas saying the border crisis is ‘unsustainable’ and ‘we’re going to lose.’

‘If our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose, and this is unsustainable,’ he said in audio obtained by Fox News.

‘We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.’

Morale among employees is at a low point. It’s not just people working on the ground at the border, either. Office employees resent political appointees being treated differently than career employees. Apparently, political appointees don’t bother to show up at the office unless asked to do so.

During the busy time for the department, one career DHS official said that some DHS career employees have been not happy that career people with critical security positions have had to go into the office while some senior political appointees in the front office haven’t gone in that much. That’s a departure from the Trump administration, when many political appointees went in to the office during much of the pandemic last year. Some of the senior career officials have had to call some political appointees to tell them they had to come in to review and sign off on important classified documents, according to this official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It’s impacted morale and caused tension that the political people are setting rules and the rules don’t always apply to them,” the official said. A DHS spokesperson said that the agency is still operating on “maximum telework flexibility to all” guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management.

Let the real grown-ups do their job, let the professionals take the reins for a while. Let’s see if the bad policy decisions can be corrected, at least in improving security at the southern border.

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