Kamala Harris’ New Comms Director Sorry for ‘Bad Tweets’ About Immigrants

Kamala Harris’ New Comms Director Sorry for ‘Bad Tweets’ About Immigrants 1

Vice President Kamala Harris’ incoming communications director Jamal Simmons hadn’t even made it to his first day on the job yet when he was forced to apologize Friday for tweets he posted in November 2010 about siccing Immigration and Customs Enforcement on “undocumented folks.”

The newly resurfaced tweets sparked immediate backlash from some progressives—criticism that only intensified when former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, notorious as the architect of the Trump administration’s harshest immigration policies, chimed in on Twitter to say he agreed with Simmons’ 2010 tweet and “there must be deportation” for those who “break into our nation.”

President Joe Biden has put Harris in charge of managing the crushing surge in migrants at the border, and many reacted to Simmons’ years-old tweets by questioning whether he’s the right person to be the face of that effort. His appointment was announced Thursday.

After the announcement, three tweets resurfaced in which Simmons asked, “Can someone explain why ICE is not picking them up?” after seeing an undocumented lawyer and undocumented protester speaking on MSNBC. He then responded to another Twitter user saying he was not “suggesting ICE shld pick them up. Just seems odd u can go on TV & admit breaking law & not be arrested.”

Simmons later attempted to brush off the criticism about his remarks as “depressing,” tweeting, “For the record, I’ve never advocated for, nor believed that Dreamers should be targeted by ICE agents. I’ve been for DACA + comprehensive immigration reform for years. I’ve been for DACA + comprehensive immigration reform for years. Frankly, it’s depressing ppl can forget about every other thing I’ve said in public on this bc of bad tweets.”

In a statement to CNN, Simmons said, “Sometimes I have been sarcastic, unclear, or just plainly missed the mark. I sincerely apologize for offending those who care as much as I do about making America the best, multi-ethnic, diverse democracy it can be.”

Harris has faced criticism for failing to curb or deal with a crush of migrants at the border who face deteriorating detention conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Biden promised to largely reverse Donald Trump’s immigration policies, his administration has continued to support the implementation of Title 42, a public health rule first enforced by Trump that turns back families and forces them to remain in Mexico. Harris put it bluntly in a June 2021 speech in Guatemala: “Don’t come. Do not come.”

The tweets about immigration aren’t Simmons’ only remarks receiving attention, however. He has spoken in favor of third-rail matters like waterboarding and Israeli settlements, further eliciting progressive criticism on Twitter.

He wrote that the CIA’s use of waterboarding was acceptable to “protect the nation” even if it “may have been illegal.”

More recently, in 2020, he wrote: “Intent/motive matter. #GWBush let CIA water board ppl and even tho we didn’t like it and may have been illegal he was not impeached bc he was doing it to protect the nation. If Bush waterboarded ppl to get someone to buy his TX ranch that would be different.”

He wrote in 2009, “Went to a settlement outside Tel Aviv. Amazing how mixed in Jewish and Arab towns are.” Israeli settlements have been widely condemned in the years since as impinging on Palestinian sovereignty, including by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2017.