Social Issues

Mayorkas 1st immigrant, 1st Latino to head US Homeland Security department

Washington, Feb 2 (efe-epa).- Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed Tuesday by the United States Senate as the new homeland security secretary, becoming the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department.

The nomination of Cuban-American Mayorkas, who was already part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has extensive experience in the legal field, received the approval of the Upper House with a vote of 56-43.

The go-ahead came after the Senate Committee on Homeland Security voted 7-4 in favor of President Joe Biden’s nominee last Tuesday, breaking a Republican filibuster.

Mayorkas, who was born in 1959 in Havana, from where he left a year later with his parents and his sister, served as deputy secretary of the DHS under Barack Obama between 2013 and 2016.

He was also director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services under the DHS, an agency that with about 300,000 employees is in charge of key issues such as border security and immigration.

During his tenure at the DHS, he led the development and implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that the Obama administration approved to protect from deportation young people brought to the US by their undocumented parents.

Additionally, Mayorkas, who is married to Tanya Mayorkas and is father to Amelia and Giselle, led the DHS response to the Ebola and Zika health crises, helped build and run the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking, and participated in the development of an emergency aid program for orphans after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

He also created the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate to better guarantee the integrity of the legal immigration system, Biden’s team noted after announcing his candidacy for the position in November.

As secretary of homeland security, Mayorkas will have the responsibility of carrying out the ambitious reform that Biden presented to Congress on his first day at the helm of the White House, offering a path to citizenship to about 11 million undocumented residents in the country.

He will also have to lead the reunification of hundreds of children with their parents after being separated at the border under the Trump administration and re-establish, among other things, the services of asylum and refuge. EFE-EPA


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