Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed by a 56-43 vote, the narrowest margin but for a Biden Cabinet nominee.
The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday as President Joe Biden’s homeland security secretary, the primary Latino to fill a put up that can have a central function within the authorities’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a sweeping Russia-linked cyber hack and home extremism.
Mr. Mayorkas was confirmed by a 56-43 vote, the narrowest margin but for a Biden Cabinet nominee. The first immigrant to serve within the job, he’s anticipated to steer a broad coverage overhaul of an company that was accused of being deeply politicised as it carried out President Donald Trump’s initiatives on immigration and regulation enforcement.
Mr. Mayorkas is a former federal prosecutor who beforehand served as a senior DHS official. His nomination was stalled within the Senate by Republicans who wished to query him additional on Mr. Biden’s plans for immigration coverage. He additionally confronted questions over his administration of an investor visa programme below President Barack Obama.
Mr. Biden’s crew had hoped to have Mayorkas confirmed by January 20. But Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri positioned a maintain on the nomination on January 19, forcing a delay within the affirmation vote.
Democrats bristled on the delay.
“My friends on the other side do not have to agree with Mr Mayorkas on the finer points of every policy, but surely we can all agree that he knows the department, understands the threats to our nation’s security and has what it takes to lead DHS,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated as he referred to as for a vote to raise a Republican filibuster on the nomination.
Even some Republican senators who had expressed reservations in regards to the nomination conceded DHS wanted a confirmed secretary with the nation dealing with so many challenges, together with the aftermath of the January 6 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters looking for to overturn the election.
“I drove through the National Guard again to get here this morning. We have got some real issues,” Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio stated as he voted to ship the nomination from the committee to the total Senate for the vote.
Mayorkas, whose household got here to the US from Cuba as refugees in 1960 and whose mom had fled the Holocaust, was a federal prosecutor in Southern California earlier than he joined the Obama administration, first as head of the immigration companies company after which as deputy secretary of DHS.
“Mr Mayorkas is uniquely qualified to make sure the Department of Homeland Security is working to protect people from all backgrounds, all communities and all walks of life,” Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, stated from the Senate ground.
Under Trump, the division was steadily in turmoil and mired in controversy. The company carried out heavy-handed immigration enforcement initiatives, most notoriously separating migrant kids from their households as a part of a zero-tolerance marketing campaign in 2018.
Over the summer season, the division was extensively condemned, together with by some former secretaries, for deploying tactical brokers with out title tags and insignia to protests in Portland, Oregon, in opposition to the needs of native authorities.
In September, a senior official filed a whistleblower criticism accusing Homeland Security leaders of downplaying risk warnings that Trump may discover objectionable, together with details about Russian election interference and the rising risk posed by white supremacists. And the president ousted the extensively revered head of the DHS cybersecurity company in November for his defence of the integrity of the 2020 election.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, who spent greater than a yr within the put up with out Senate affirmation, and different senior officers turned routine information conferences into what to many gave the impression to be Trump marketing campaign occasions, touting comparatively minor enforcement actions as main coverage achievements.
Mayorkas, who rejected a proposal to separate households when he served below Obama, has pledged to “end the inhumane and unjust treatment of immigrants,” but additionally to keep up border enforcement.
“We are a nation of immigrants, and we are also a nation of laws,” he stated throughout his affirmation listening to.
At Mayorkas’ affirmation listening to, senators raised the 2015 report by the Office of Inspector General that criticised him for his administration of a programme that granted US residency to international buyers. The investigation discovered he created an look of favouritism and political interference by directing the approval of three initiatives backed by outstanding Democrats, overruling workers suggestions when he ran the immigration companies company below Obama.
Republican Senate chief Mitch McConnell denounced him on the Senate ground Tuesday, saying Mayorkas ought to be saved from even a decrease put up for offering particular remedy to outstanding figures such as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother, Anthony Rodham, and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Mr Mayorkas did his best to turn US Citizenship and Immigration Services into an unethical favour factory for Democratic Party royalty,” he stated.
Mayorkas disputed the IG report’s conclusion and instructed senators he intervened in choices, on behalf of each Republicans and Democrats, to appropriate what he thought-about fallacious actions.