A farewell ceremony was held for Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Oct. 24, 2016. (Official DHS photo by Jetta Disco)

Biden to Nominate Former Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as First Latino to Lead DHS

President-elect Biden plans to nominate former Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as the first Latino and the first immigrant secretary of Homeland Security.

Biden announced his picks for key members of his foreign policy and national security team to media today, and plans to formally introduce them in a livestream on Tuesday.

Mayorkas immigrated to the United States from Cuba when he was an infant. He served as deputy secretary at DHS from December 2013 to October 2016, and before that served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013, where he helped craft and implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In 1998, Mayorkas became the youngest U.S. attorney in the country when he was appointed as the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. After the election of President Obama, Mayorkas led the transition team for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

After his tenure at DHS, Mayorkas became a partner at the law firm WilmerHale and served as the chairman of the United States Chamber of Commerce’s Cyber Leadership Council.

“During his tenure at DHS, he led the implementation of DACA, negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, led the Department’s response to Ebola and Zika, helped build and administer the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking, and developed an emergency relief program for orphaned youth following the tragic January 2010 earthquake in Haiti,” said the Biden transition team. “Mayorkas also created the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate to better ensure the integrity of the legal immigration system.”

Biden is nominating other familiar names to top security posts, naming former Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to serve as secretary of State and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017, to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — a role that will be elevated to a Cabinet post.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will be named Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council, the first time the NSC will include a climate official.

Former White House Deputy National Security Advisor and former CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines will be nominated to lead the IC as Director of National Intelligence. She would be the first woman to serve in that role.

And Jake Sullivan, a former senior policy advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has been selected as National Security Advisor.

“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. This is the crux of that team,” Biden said in a statement. “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 selected them.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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