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If approved by the Senate, Alejandro Mayorkas will be the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

“We are a nation built on the energy, aspirations, and ideas of immigrants.” Those were the words by Alejandro Mayorkas, the candidate chosen by President-elect Joe Biden to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If approved by the Senate, he would be the first immigrant and Latino to lead the DHS. 

Mayorkas’ remarks came during the American Business Immigration Coalition virtual event that took place on Dec. 4. Mayorkas spoke highly about immigrants in the US and how they are vital to the country’s growth. His viewpoints on immigrants and undocumented people in the US are vastly different from those of the Trump administration and their anti-immigrant policies.

“We must stop vilifying these communities,” Mayorkas said. “We must bring to an immediate end the inhumane and unjust treatment of immigrants. There is no more powerful and heartbreaking example of that inhumanity than the separation of children from their parents. Immigrants have been essential to our communities’ ability to survive the current pandemic serving our nation in vast numbers as healthcare workers, researchers, and scientists, as delivery drivers, caregivers, and clerks, and in so many other critical roles. And they will be vital to our economic recovery.”

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Mayorkas said that his job in DHS won’t be easy because the “immigration system is badly broken—and we all know it.” 

He added, “The cost of that broken system is incalculably high. It represents a profound toll not only on families seeking to contribute to our nation and forge their own American dream but on our economic prosperity and our moral authority as well.”

Mayorkas, who fled Cuba in 1960, said he understands firsthand the critical role immigrants play in the US. He said his father didn’t want to raise him in a communist country. 

Before he was appointed head of DHS, Mayorkas led a 30-year career as a law enforcement official and a nationally recognized lawyer in the private sector. Mayorkas served as the deputy secretary of DHS in the Obama-Biden administration from 2013 to 2016, and director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013. 

During his tenure at DHS, he led the development and implementation of DACA, negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, and led the Department’s response to Ebola and Zika. 

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“I have been nominated to be the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to help oversee the protection of all Americans for filling our promise to the nation of immigrants and administering our immigration system with integrity in a way that is humane and secure,” Mayorkas said. 

Click here to watch the entire interview.