Alejandro Mayorkas is a former Obama administration official who has been nominated by president-elect Joe Biden to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
The Biden-Harris transition team on Monday, November 23, announced Mayorkas as the cabinet’s future Secretary of Homeland Security, a “key role at the helm of anticipated efforts to undo President Trump’s flurry of immigration changes,” according to CBS News.
“We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy. I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values. This is the crux of that team,” Biden said in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Mayorkas, one of Biden’s first cabinet announcements, will need Senate approval in “order to serve in the posts,” The New York Post said.
Here’s what you need to know about Alejandro Mayorkas:
1. If Confirmed, Mayorkas Would Be the First Immigrant and Latino to Lead DHS
According to the Biden-Harris transition team website, Mayorkas would mark the first immigrant and Latino to lead DHS, should he be confirmed.
Born in Havana, Cuba, the website continues, he arrived to the U.S. as a political refugee.
“When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones,” Mayorkas tweeted on Monday, November 23.
2. He Served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Obama-Biden Administration From 2013 to 2016
Mayorkas served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Obama-Biden Administration from 2013 to 2016, the Biden-Transition team website states. From 2009 to 2013, he served as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“During his tenure at DHS, he led the development and implementation of DACA, negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, led the Department’s response to Ebola and Zika, helped build and administer the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking, and developed an emergency relief program for orphaned youth following the tragic January 2010 earthquake in Haiti,” the transition team announced.
He also created the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate to “better ensure the integrity of the legal immigration system,” the website continues.
3. Mayorkas is a ‘Nationally-Recognized Lawyer in the Private Sector’
The Biden-Harris transition team described Mayorkas as a “nationally-recognized” lawyer in the private sector.
He led a “distinguished legal career in the private sector, at O’Melveny & Myers and most recently WilmerHale, where he has specialized in strategic counseling and crisis management,” the team said online.
The National Law Journal Recognized Mayorkas in 2008 as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America,” according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website.
4. Mayorkas Received His Bachelor’s Degree With Distinction From the University of California at Berkeley and a Law Degree From Loyola Law School
Mayorkas, who turns 61 on November 24, was brought by his family to the Los Angeles area when he was an infant, according to NBC Los Angeles.
He graduated from Beverly Hills High School, the station continued. Mayorkas then pursued a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Loyola Law School, the Biden-Harris transition team said.
5. As Head of the DHS, Mayorkas Would Lead the Agency on Counterterrorism, Cybersecurity, Border Security & Immigration Enforcement
According to the Department of Homeland Security website, the secretary of state leads the agency in areas of counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, border security, port security, maritime security, administration and enforcement of immigration laws, among others.
The incoming Democratic administration is also “expected to quickly start dismantling President Trump’s immigration agenda,” CBS News reported.
“After Mr. Biden is sworn-in in January, his administration will move to fully restore an Obama-era program that shields 640,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, halting Mr. Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to end it,” the outlet said.