Loyola Law School (LLS) alumnus Alejandro Mayorkas (‘85) was nominated by president-elect Joe Biden as the new Secretary of Homeland Security. If confirmed, Mayorkas, a Cuban American, will be the first Latino and the first immigrant to hold this position.
Mayorkas earned his Juris Doctor from LLS in 1985, and has since worked as an adjunct professor at the school, and was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2001. Under the Obama administration, Mayorkas worked as the deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and as the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Mayorkas has been an advocate for immigrants throughout his career, including being a central figure in the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects youth from deportation from the country. Rolling back DACA has been a large target during the Trump administration.
“[Mayorkas] understands immigration from a broad perspective, and in terms of what he brings, I really do think he brings hope to the possibility of a multicultural democracy that celebrates the contributions of immigrants in the United States,” said Michael Waterstone, the dean of LLS, in an interview with Election 2020 reporter Veronica Backer-Peral.
Coming into the DHS after Trump will be no easy task. The department has been focused on anti-immigration policies, as well as having maintained a revolving door of secretaries, with five since Trump took office almost four years ago. Mayorkas will also have to be confirmed under a majority Republican Senate.
Mayorkas appears up to the challenge, promising to “oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones,” in a tweet after his selection.
“He is in a unique position to help make the world a better place. He has very thoughtful views on what that will look like. It’s just exciting that he will be in that position to go out and do what all of our grads can and should be doing. It’s a very encouraging and inspiring moment,” said Waterstone.