The Department of Homeland Security’s chief of staff to embattled Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “has decided to resign her position and pursue new opportunities.”
Mayorkas announced the resignation of Karen Olick and said that Jennifer Higgins, associate director of Refugee, Asylum and International Operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will step in to be his chief of staff in the interim when Olick officially leaves at the end of the month, Politico reported.
“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 wrote in a farewell message, according to the report.
She did not immediately respond to Politico’s request for comment.
Mayorkas’ DHS has been under scrutiny for its difficulties in managing the southern border under President Joe Biden and border czar Vice President Kamala Harris. They recently faced a court ruling restoring former President Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. Additionally, the restoring of catch and release by border officials has been a frequent criticism of Republicans, including Trump.
“We are grateful to Karen for her service during the critical first nine months of the new administration,” Mayorkas wrote in an email to DHS officials.
Politico noted Higgins has more of a background in civil service, while Olick came to work in the administration as a former Democrat strategic communications official, having led SKDK’s ballot initiative.
Complicating the migration at the southern border has been the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic amid the rise of the delta variant, Hurricane Ida, and the difficulty vetting tens of thousands of Afghanistan refugees amid the Biden-ordered U.S. withdrawal that was completed last month.