The Senate voted to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary of Homeland Security, putting a department veteran at the helm of the Biden administration’s plans to reverse hard-line policies implemented by former president Donald Trump.
Born in Cuba and raised in California, Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
The confirmation comes as President Joe Biden seeks to undo four years of a “zero tolerance” approach toward immigration under the Trump administration.
Mayorkas was confirmed 56-43, mostly along party lines. He was the first Biden nominee to face a filibuster from Republicans, which the Senate voted to break on Thursday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Biden administration is expected on Tuesday evening to announce a Homeland Security Department task force aimed at reuniting migrant children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mayorkas will grapple with a Homeland Security Department that has been plagued by high turnover in leadership positions and vacancies. A Senate-confirmed appointee has not led the department since Trump pushed Kirstjen Nielsen out in 2019. Mayorkas will also face domestic security threats that have come to light following the Jan. 6 insurrection led by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol. In a memo released last week, the Department of Homeland Security warned “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” could “continue to mobilize or incite violence.”
Several Republican senators lambasted Mayorkas ahead of the confirmation hearing, raising alarm about his time as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A 2015 DHS Inspector General Report found that Mayorkas appeared to give politically powerful individuals special access to an investor visa program. “I’ve voted for several of President Biden’s mainstream cabinet nominees,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote on Twitter early Tuesday. “But his choice to run Homeland Security was blasted by the Obama Administration’s own Inspector General for running an immigration law favor factory for powerful Democrats. Bad pick with major ethics issues.”
Read the original article at Forbes.