PLAYER PROFILE

Susan Rice

Director of the Domestic Policy Council | Former National Security Advisor | Former Ambassador to the United Nations

As early as the spring of 2020, there was media buzz that Susan Rice would have a position in the Biden administration, but many commentators were surprised when she was ultimately tapped as director of the Domestic Policy Council. As a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor to the Obama administration, Rice’s foreign policy background seemed a better fit for Secretary of State. Indeed, she was once Obama’s top choice to replace former Secretary Hilary Clinton in 2012, but after Rice became the public face of the administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks, Republican opposition forced her to drop out of the running. Rice did not require a Senate confirmation hearing to be director of the DPC. 

Though she sometimes faced criticisms as National Security Advisor for not cooperating with other agencies, Rice said early on that she intends to work closely with Biden’s National Security Council and National Economic Council. “In the 21st century, our foreign, economic, and domestic imperatives are deeply intertwined,” she said. 

As National Security Advisor, Rice was one of the architects of the Obama administration’s Central American aid plan, and she’s brought that experience to bear on her new position. In an interview with Spanish-language wire service EFE, Rice laid out a three-pillar immigration plan that will commit $4 billion in aid over 4 years to struggling Northern Triangle countries, expand family reunification and employment-based immigration opportunities, and expedite the asylum process while minimizing immigrant detention. 

However, as a self-described realist, Rice takes a more cautious approach to some of President Biden’s campaign promises. Although Biden has pledged to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Rice emphasized that he will attempt to do so through the legislature, not by executive order. And while migrants and activists originally hoped the administration would immediately rescind the emergency order from March 2020 that closed the border to all but essential travel due to COVID-19, Rice was the first to deliver the message that it would not. “Migrants and asylum seekers absolutely should not believe those in the region peddling the idea that the border will suddenly be fully open to process everyone on Day 1,” she said.

SOURCES:

Rice’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Responding to a question about whether the Biden administration will reopen the southern border, which has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020 due to COVID-19, Rice indicated that reopening will take time. “This effort will begin immediately but it will take months to develop the capacity that we will need to reopen fully,” she said.

  • Border Wall

    In 2019, Rice and 57 other former U.S. government officials signed a letter opposing the declaration of a national emergency on the southern border to obtain funding for a border wall.

  • Detention

    Rice has stated that the new administration intends to reduce immigrant detention, instead relying on case managers and “other innovative programs” to ensure immigrants appear for necessary court dates.

  • Immigration Courts

    Rice has proposed that in order to make the asylum process more efficient, the Biden administration will “[enable] asylum officers to adjudicate claims so asylum seekers aren’t tied up in court proceedings for years.” She did not indicate whether this would take the place of a ruling by an immigration court, or if the administration plans to increase the ranks of immigration judges.

  • Undocumented Population

    Rice has emphasized that providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is a priority of the Biden administration, but that the President will attempt to do so through the legislature, not by executive order.

  • ICE

    No statement found.

  • DACA

    Rice has previously expressed support for the DACA program. In 2019, she joined 51 former U.S. national security officials in filing a brief voicing their opposition to President Trump’s decision to rescind the DACA program.

  • Asylum

    “The President-elect is committed to restoring and honoring our asylum laws, including at the border, and many of the outgoing administration’s policies will be rolled back right away,” said Rice in a joint interview with incoming National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The two indicated that the Biden administration intends to rescind the Migrant Protection Protocols, whereby asylum seekers who have crossed the border are returned to Mexico to await their court date. However, Rice said that it could take months for the administration to develop the capacity to safely admit asylum seekers again.

  • Central America Policy

    Rice was one of the architects of the Obama administration’s Central American intervention program. At remarks delivered at the Atlantic Council in 2016, Rice described their efforts to provide training and equipment to law enforcement in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to help control gang violence and drug trafficking, and to reduce poverty in the area by investing $750 million in foreign aid. Since being named Domestic Policy Advisor, one of Rice’s key pillars in addressing the flow of immigration to the southern border is a 4-year, $4-billion Central American aid plan. In an interview, she pledged “to work with civil society, the private sector, governments, and international partners to address the underlying causes of migration.”

  • Visas

    As part of a three-pillar immigration policy, Rice said the Biden administration will attempt to address the flow of migrants from Central America by expanding pathways for legal immigration, including through family-sponsored and employment-based green cards, refugee status, and temporary worker status.