First Latino Chosen For Joe Biden's Cabinet

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban American and former Obama administration official, has the experience to change Trump's "inhuman immigration policies," Sen. Bob Menendez said.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino chosen for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet, will head a Department of Homeland Security that is expected to drastically overhaul President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, as well as put Mayorkas at the forefront of the new administration’s anti-terrorism strategy.

Mayorkas will be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the Department of Homeland Security, if confirmed by the Senate. The highest-ranking Cuban American in the Obama administration, Mayorkas was deputy secretary of DHS under then-Secretary Jeh Johnson, and before that was the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, a part of DHS that oversees granting citizenship and other immigration benefits.

Mayorkas, if confirmed, will take over the nation’s third-largest agency in terms of employees, one that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that oversees several smaller agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service.

The Trump administration has drastically transformed the nation's immigration system with over 400 executive actions — including refusing entry to asylum-seekers, taking children from parents at the border and restricting travel to the U.S. by Muslims.

There will be pressure on the Biden administration to act quickly on immigration and uphold pledges he made on the campaign trail, such as ending travel bans and protecting young immigrants, known as Dreamers, and to take such actions in the first 100 days of his administration.

Much of Trump’s immigration policy was the work of his adviser Stephen Miller, who cited and promoted white nationalist beliefs in emails leaked to the Southern Poverty Law Center last year.