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Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas (born November 24, 1959) is a Cuban-American government official and attorney who has been serving as the seventh United States Secretary of Homeland Security since February 2, 2021. During the Obama administration, he also served in the Department of Homeland Security, first as director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (20092013), and then as deputy secretary of DHS (20132016). Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba. Shortly after the Cuban Revolution, his family fled to Florida and later settled in California. He graduated from UC Berkeley in history with honors, subsequently earning his J.D. from Loyola Marymount University.

After law school, Mayorkas worked as an Assistant United States Attorney and was appointed the United States attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles during the administration of President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, where he oversaw the prosecution of high-profile criminal cases. Mayorkas was a member of the presidential transition team for Barack Obama before he assumed office in January 2009, where he led the team responsible for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Mayorkas was appointed by President Obama as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On May 20, 2009, the nomination was received by the Senate; on August 7, 2009, the nomination was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote. As USCIS director, Mayorkas led United States citizenship through management efficiencies and fiscal responsibility, and safeguarded the integrity of the immigration system. He implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process in sixty days.

He led U.S. government efforts to rescue orphaned children following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti and led the advancement of a crime victims unit that, for the first time, resulted in the ability of the agency to administer the statutory maximum number of visas to victims of crime. In 2016, Mayorkas became a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, in their Washington, D.C., office. On November 23, 2020, President-elect Joe Biden announced he would nominate Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security in his Cabinet. Mayorkas’s nomination received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police and former secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff (who served under George W. Bush), Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson (under whom Mayorkas served), who said Biden “could not have found a more qualified person”. On February 2, 2021, Mayorkas was confirmed by the Senate on a 5643 vote, with significant Senate Republican opposition. He was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris on February 2, 2021. Mayorkas is the first immigrant and first person born in Latin America to lead the department.