US President-elect, Joe Biden, has nominated Cuban-American lawyer, Alejandro Mayorkas, to run the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a landmark mark move by the Democratic election winner. Mayorkas, who previously served as the DHS secretary under former US President Barack Obama, is among Biden’s first selection of Cabinet nominees.
Born in Cuba, Mayorkas’ family fled the Fidel Castro-led revolution. In a post on Twitter, he said: “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I’ve been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”
Mayorkas has also previously served as US attorney in California and director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under Obama during his first term.
Hardline Trump policies
If confirmed as the new DHS chief, Mayorkas would walk in to a department that defined many of Trump’s hardline US immigration policies, one of which includes separating families at the US southern border with Mexico.
Mayorkas will also have to tackle Trump’s controversial, so-called Muslim majority travel ban.
Biden’s nomination of Mayorkas as DHS chief was among a number of Cabinet nominees and appointments, including Antony Blinken, a former deputy Secretary of State, to lead the State Department and a former chief diplomat, John Kerry, to serve as Mr Biden’s climate czar to the world, according to a report published by The Independent.
In a statement released by Biden, he said: “We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy. I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values.”
Innovative and imaginative
Commenting on his nominees and appointments for Cabinet, including Mayorkas, the President-elect said: “This is the crux of that team. These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative.”
“Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits — or without diversity of background and perspective. It’s why I’ve chosen them,” Biden added.
Melania Trump receives White Christmas tree for last time
Biden’s first-level nominees and appointments for Cabinet were announced by his transition team just as First Lady, Melania Trump, received the White House Christmas tree for the final time. Donald Trump has previously attended the yearly ritual, but did not accompany his wife on this occasion.
According to a 2016 DHS fact sheet, during his time as DHS secretary under the Obama administration, Mayorkas ‘developed and implemented policies, budget, and operational plans to achieve the Department’s critical missions in such Homeland Security areas as counterterrorism, cyber security, border security, trade and travel, emergency management, aviation security, dignitary protection, maritime security, and the fair and efficient administration of US immigration law.’
He is said to have also dealt ‘keenly’ with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
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