The announcement was immediately praised by immigrant advocates and democratic lawmakers, as well as former and current officials who expressed concerns about the politicization of departmental leaders.
Over the past four years, DHS’s changing acting leadership has disrupted some of President Donald Trump’s actions, including a second attempt to curb the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program. This also contributed to unpredictability within the department.
In response to the news, Mayorkas referred to the challenges facing DHS and mentioned his immigrant background.
“At a very young age, the United States provided shelter for my family and me. I have now been appointed DHS secretary and overseen the protection of all Americans and those fleeing persecution for a better life. Themselves and their loved ones,” Mayorkas tweeted.
If confirmed, Mayorkas will be the first Latin and immigrant to lead a class punched and politically driven under Trump’s leadership.
Mayorkas has been a rumored national team for weeks – a welcome selection between some current and former officials who have stressed the need for a leader with experience in DHS. Mayorkas has plenty to do.
Under Obama, Mayorkas worked as both DHS’s deputy secretary and director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the ministry’s immigration agency, where he was organically involved in the implementation of the DACA. The program, which the Trump administration has tried to end, provides protection by deportation against undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Mayorkas is likely to play a key role in curbing the Trump administration’s immigration policy, given that many of these changes came from DHS. He is thoroughly familiar with the agency – USCIS – which is at the heart of the most restrictive policies, including those that make it extremely difficult to obtain asylum.
Since Trump took office, DHS has had five secretaries, only two of whom have been confirmed by the Senate, and a number of questions have been raised about the legitimacy and authority of those in leadership positions. The last Senate-confirmed secretary was Kirstjen Nielsen. He left in April 2019.
“A permanent revolving door is not good for the long-term stability and efficiency of the still-new division,” a former DHS official who worked with Mayorkas during the Obama administration. said CNN. “He’ll be able to run to the ground and be really efficient early on. I can’t think of anyone better suited to take over the leadership of the class in a really difficult time.”
Mayorkas, who was born in Havana (Cuba) and was the highest-ranking Cuban American who served in the Obama administration, played a role in the administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.
Former Mayor chief Jeh Johnson, a former home security minister, quickly praised the announcement on Monday.
“There is a way to enforce our immigration laws in a reasonable, compassionate way while pursuing immigration reform here in this country,” Johnson said in a virtual panel discussion at the New American Security Center. “Ali knows how to do this. I trust he will take on this mission in a very competent way.”
John Sandweg, a former acting director of immigration and customs enforcement who also worked with Mayorkas, called it a “great choice.”
“His law enforcement certificate is well-founded, it gets to the ground and puts good politics first over good politics. The national security team that President Biden has elected, including Ali announced at DHS so far, is full of competence, integrity and real expertise,” he said. He told.
Michael Knowles, president of the 1924 Local Association of U.S. Government Employees, which represents U.S.CIS employees in the national capital area, said Mayorkas was a “labor champion” while working for USCIS. “Based on our experience with him, we can expect him to maintain a healthy balance between border insurance, compliance with our laws and ensuring a fair and efficient legal immigration process.” Knowles said.
Mayorkas also lends expertise in curbing epidemics. He was involved in DHS’s planning of Ebola and Zika infectious disease, which included ensuring that the Ebola outbreak, a former DHS official said.
“DHS has a huge amount of interaction with travelers, and that will be key in responding to the ongoing epidemic,” the former official said.
Questions about visa applications related to applicants’ complaints
Mayorkas has been confirmed three times before by the Senate. However, you may face questions about your time as director of the federal government agency responsible for legal immigration, USCIS.
Employees have argued that Mayorkas has been influencing the granting of preferences to individuals as part of a visa program that prioritizes residence for immigrants who commit to investing in the U.S. economy and creating jobs.
Government oversight found that in three cases, Mayorkas “communicated outside the ordinary judicial process” and intervened in the decision-making process.
Although the Inspector General was unable to determine the motivation for Mayorkas’ actions, they provoked “significant resentment” at the agency. At the time, Mayorkas said the allegations that he had granted preferential treatment and created the appearance of injustice were “completely unfounded.”