- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2020

The transition “landing team” presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden is deploying to the Department of Homeland Security is stocked with veterans of counterterrorism and emergency management — and it’s a who’s who of past campaigns for an illegal immigrant amnesty.

Missing, however, is anyone to represent border security, said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents thousands of Border Patrol line agents.

“I think this list does not do what Biden promised. It does not bring in people with different ideas and border security policy,” Mr. Judd told The Washington Times. “Instead, it appears to be a repeat of the Obama administration.”

It’s not just Homeland Security. Obama-era veterans make up many of the 550 names, across 40 teams, that Mr. Biden wants to embed with departments and agencies, part of the usual transition process so a new president is up to speed on the latest goings-on by Inauguration Day.

Mr. Biden’s lists are heavy with racial justice advocates and climate change activists.

They are also stocked with former military members, even in posts that would normally be held by civilians, said Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist.

President Trump was criticized for his reliance on military people to fill civilian posts, but Mr. Biden “does not appear to depart over much from the Trump practice,” the professor said.

The teams will report back on what’s in the works, giving Mr. Biden a head start on figuring out which pending policies to stop and which to continue, as well as how to unwind actions by Mr. Trump.

Good-government analysts gave Mr. Biden’s teams strong reviews, saying he has picked people with deep experience on their issues — and in many cases previously served in the same departments they are now reviewing.

“Viewed in toto, this is an impressive list, befitting a nominee, now president-elect, who managed to bridge various schisms within his party to campaign on a platform of restoring national unity and promising sobriety and responsible government,” said Mr. Feaver, who served on the National Security Council for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. “The Democratic Party has a deep bench of expertise, and it is reflected well.”

He compared the team favorably to the “slap-dash effort” under Mr. Trump four years ago.

Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said Mr. Biden has turned to old pros with years of experience in Washington. Given the myriad challenges the new administration will face, it’s important they are ready to “hit the ground running and make progress,” he said.

“People will expect quick results, and if it takes months to show progress, it will erode public support for the new president,” Mr. West said.

As a Democrat, Mr. Biden’s selections were bound to lean to the left. That means folks with more skeptical approaches to Wall Street.

It also means a plethora of people with experience on climate change, reported E&E News. Those people have been deployed well beyond the traditional departments and agencies that deal with the environment, including the Pentagon and the General Services Administration, which oversees government properties.

About half of the agency review teams have at least one official with a climate background, E&E reported.

Still, some of the picks are raising eyebrows.

A member of the Open Society Foundations, liberal billionaire George Soros’ activist arm, has been deployed to the U.S. mission to the United Nations. An employee from failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ political group will head to the Justice Department.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, flagged Mr. Biden’s selection of Richard Stengel to be lead for the landing team at the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Mr. Stengel has called the First Amendment’s protection of hateful speech that could incite violence “a design flaw.”

“That design flaw is free speech itself,” Mr. Turley wrote in a piece jabbing at the pick. “So in a nation filled with gifted people to lead the effort on government media policy and positions, Biden selected a person who rejects the very essence of free speech.”

It’s not clear how much access the landing teams will get anytime soon.

Mr. Trump is disputing projections that he lost the election, and the GSA has yet to provide the transition help usually given to an incoming administration.

Labor union officials are prominent players on many of the Biden teams.

Someone from the National Education Association sits on his teams for the Office of Personnel Management and the Education and Justice Departments, while Service Employees International Union officials sit on teams for the Federal Reserve and the Labor and Health and Human Services departments.

But nobody from the Border Patrol union or the National ICE Council is sitting on the Homeland Security team.

The team leader, Ur Jaddou, comes from America’s Voice, one of the most outspoken groups pushing for legalization of illegal immigrants. She was the top lawyer at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration.

Also on the team is a top immigration official from the American Civil Liberties Union and the key immigration staffer for Edward M. Kennedy when he was writing amnesty legislation in the Senate.

Mr. Judd, the Border Patrol union president, said of the names on the list, he was comfortable with one: Subhasri Ramanathan.

“Although she leans liberal, she has always been willing to look at policy issues through various lenses, but if there aren’t people on the team that have different ideology, which it doesn’t appear there is, there is no way to know what those different lenses are,” he said.

Rosemary Jenks, vice president at NumbersUSA, which advocates for stricter immigration limits, said the list is heavy on immigrant rights activists.

“We’re going back to Obamaland,” she said. “There is no one who has expressed any concern for American workers, for American sovereignty, for American security. It’s all about what can we do for immigrants and how to bring in more immigrants.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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