WASHINGTON, D.C. — No sooner had Jamal Simmons been announced as Vice President Kamala Harris’ new communications director than an old tweet by Simmons surfaced causing an uproar on social media.
“Just saw 2 undocumented folks talking on MSNBC,” Simmons tweeted in November 2010. “One Law student the other a protester. Can someone explain why ICE is not picking them up?”
Just saw 2 undocumented folks talking on MSNBC. One Law student the other a protester. Can someone explain why ICE is not picking them up?
— Jamal Simmons (@JamalSimmons) November 29, 2010
“What the actual f—,” posted a senior administration official in a group chat dedicated to immigration policy. “Who did the vetting on Jamal?”
The White House did not reply to multiple requests for comments regarding Simmons’ vetting, though the already embattled communications aide did apologize for his previous remarks.
“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,” wrote Simmons in a statement to CBS News. “I know the role I am taking on is to represent the Biden-Harris administration, and I will do so with humility, sincerity and respect.”
"..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. I know the role I am taking on is to represent the Biden-Harris administration, and I will do so with humility, sincerity and respect"
— Tim Perry (@tperry518) January 7, 2022
Simmons is a longtime Democratic press aide, beginning with his work on Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992.
After bouncing around a multitude of campaign, government, and private sector roles through the 1990s and 2000s, Simmons became a frequent progressive political commentator on cable and network news shows during the Obama presidency.
The year before Simmons tweeted his remarks about undocumented immigrants, he was named one of the most influential people under 40 years old by Washington Life.
Simmons’ remarks came at the beginning of the Obama administration’s escalation of deportations against undocumented immigrants, which would continue throughout Obama’s presidency.
The resurfaced tweet is the latest in a series of embarrassing setbacks for the Office of the Vice President, which has been hampered by leaks, snafus, and other staffing setbacks in the first year of the Joe Biden administration.
Most recently, senior aide Symone Sanders announced that she would be leaving the Vice President’s team, creating a gaping void in the team’s workflow that Simmons’ arrival is intended to address, according to a White House source who spoke to Latino Rebels on the condition of anonymity.
“I don’t think he’ll get fired over this,” said the source. “But it’s definitely another headache we don’t need right now.”
On Thursday, Axios reported that Vice President Harris is hiring for “a seasoned Democratic operative to fill a new Hispanic outreach role” to “tend to Hispanic groups” prior to the midterm election in November.
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports