Senior Director for Transborder Security sounds like a serious job with big responsibilities. So who has the Biden administration hired to fill it? A public relations officer at the United Nations’ refugee agency.
Though Katie Tobin has scant experience in the security field, she is billed as “an expert on asylum seekers and refugees.” Since her days as an immigrant/refugee caseworker in 2004, Tobin has held several immigration positions in and out of government. Most recently she was external relations officer for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Tobin’s skill set would seem a more logical fit at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where she once helped adjudicate asylum claims and conducted credible-fear interviews. By slotting her into a top director position under the National Security Council (NSC), Team Biden is taking “transborder security” in a different direction.
“By putting a U.N. refugee activist in the position, the Biden White House has made it clear that it will work to serve the needs of refugee activists, not the security of America’s borders,” says Brian Lonergan, of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).
Neither Tobin nor the administration has commented on her appointment. But Tobin’s former immigration court colleagues in Arlington, Va., who called her a “human rights expert,” posted congratulations: “Great news for America. You make us all proud!”
Lonergan isn’t so enthused. “[The administration] is embracing and implementing the United Nations’ global view of what our immigration laws should look like. That may serve the best interests of the U.N., foreign governments, big business and other entities, but it is certainly not in the best interests of the United States and its citizens,” he stated.
Over the years, the UNHCR, Tobin’s former employer, has demanded that the U.S. broaden its definition of refugee, to essentially open its southern border to meritless asylum-seekers. The agency steadfastly opposes any efforts to limit mass migration and condemns asylum rules aimed at preventing fraud and reducing illegal immigration at the southern border.
On cue, the Biden administration is expected to increase refugee admissions nearly 10-fold to 125,000 per year. More dangerously, the president has lifted travel restrictions on terrorist-sponsoring countries, dismissing the list of countries that was compiled by the Obama administration.
How effectively Ms. Tobin intends to address the ongoing challenges and threats to “transborder security” will be of more than passing interest in the months to come.