Immigration advocates celebrated the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden intends to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Mayorkas, who previously served as deputy secretary of DHS under President Barack Obama, is the son of Cuban Jews who fled Fidel Castro’s regime and arrived in the United States as refugees in 1960, less than a year after he was born. If confirmed, he would become the first immigrant and first Hispanic American to lead the sprawling department, which, among its various responsibilities, oversees the U.S. immigration system and border security.
“This nomination is not only smart, it is historic,” Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said in a statement issued Monday. “He will not only bring critical leadership but a set of life experiences that will animate the department’s work ahead.”
Johnson said that apart from Mayorkas’s personal background, he was reassured by his record on immigration issues during the Obama administration, especially his key role in creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which protects certain immigrants who were raised in the U.S. from deportation. Johnson said this was a hopeful sign that the incoming Biden administration may go even beyond Biden’s pledge to reverse the controversial immigration restrictions imposed under President Trump.
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