Harvard’s Sunstein Joins Biden’s DHS to Shape Immigration Rules

Former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein on Monday joined the Department of Homeland Security, where President Joe Biden is moving rapidly to roll back Donald Trump’s immigration policy priorities.

Sunstein is a senior counselor who will be responsible for making sure that the rules put forward by the department and its agencies are based on evidence and consistent with the law, an administration official said.

Sunstein, a law professor at Harvard University, was administrator of President Barack Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012. His work with Biden goes back three decades to when Biden was the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Commission and Sunstein weighed in on judicial nominations and constitutional interpretation.

Biden is unwinding Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies that advocacy groups denounced as too restrictive, unfair and cruel. The president is also pushing for Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system.

Progressives raised concerns last month about Sunstein’s rumored plans to join the administration, pointing to what they described as a record of blocking and slowing regulations during his years in the Obama administration.

Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project, a progressive watchdog group, said Sunstein is an “incomprehensibly prolific academic and pundit” who “claims expertise in everything.”

“I can think of nothing in Sunstein’s record that gives me confidence he can fix a deeply broken department like the Department of Homeland Security or that he has a particular commitment to migrants,” Hauser said. “We need to get past the idea that because people are deemed important, it’s important that they get an appointment.”

A spokesperson for the Homeland Security Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before joining the administration, Sunstein was also a contributor to Bloomberg Opinion which, like Bloomberg News, is part of Bloomberg LP. A company spokesman declined to comment.

In 2018, Sunstein received the Holberg Prize, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for law and the humanities, from Norway’s government. He also worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Sunstein’s wife, Samantha Power, is Biden’s nominee for administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Power’s financial disclosures showed Sunstein earning consulting fees from Apple Inc. and Global Asset Capital LLC, as well as advisory fees and stock options from Humu Inc. He also reported royalties from dozens of book publications.

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