February 4, 2021
On February 2, 2021, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), marking the first time a Latino and immigrant has held the position. Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and his family fled to the United States as refugees in 1960, following the Cuban Revolution.
Under the Obama Administration, Mayorkas served as the head of the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) from 2009-2013, during which time he implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Following his tenure with USCIS, he was nominated and confirmed to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, a position he held until October 2016.
Mayorkas’s nomination had broad support from the immigration community, with Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), noting: “It sends a signal that the Biden administration is serious about reforming all the wrongs that have happened to our immigration system in the past four years, because by selecting someone who has deep immigration expertise as secretary, it signals that this will be a big priority.”
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, four former DHS secretaries wrote of Mayorkas’s nomination: “The president-elect could not have found a more qualified person to be the next homeland security secretary.”
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