President-elect Joe Biden’s new cabinet has several familiar faces, including some that had worked for previous administrations. Alejandro Mayorkas, a former chief federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and a former undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was nominated Monday by Biden to command that department for the next 4 years.
Mayorkas, who has been confirmed by the United States Senate three times in his career, is the first Latino and immigrant nominated to fill that important position.
Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba, and was the highest-ranking Cuban-American to serve in the administration of former President Obama. He came to Los Angeles when he was a baby with his family. Through the years Mayorkas was associated with a career that span several years within the government. He received his BA with distinction from the University of Berkeley and graduated from Loyola Law School in law.
“When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me with a place of refuge,” Mayorkas wrote on Twitter in response to his appointment. “Now, I am nominated as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to oversee the protection of all Americans and those fleeing persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones”.
In a 30-year career as a nationally recognized law enforcement officer and attorney, Mayorkas served as DHS Under Secretary in the Obama-Biden Administration from 2013 to 2016, and as Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. from 2009 to 2013.
Mayorkas, 61, graduated from Beverly Hills High School and as a prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office, and among her best known cases is that of the so-called “Hollywood Lady” Heidi Fleiss whom she helped convict. on charges of federal conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering. As bureau chief, Mayorkas also oversaw the prosecution of members of the Mexican mafia in death penalty proceedings, the prosecution of Buford O. Furrow Jr. for the murder of a federal postal worker, and the hate-motivated shooting of children. in Los Angeles Jewish Community Center in addition to prosecuting Litton Industries for paying bribes abroad and taking down the violent 18th Street gang using extortion laws.
During his tenure at DHS, he led the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which provides protection from deportation to immigrants who were illegally brought into the country as children by their parents.
Mayorkas also negotiated cybersecurity and national security agreements with foreign governments, led the department’s response to Ebola and the Zika virus, helped build and manage the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking, and developed an emergency aid program for young orphans. after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The talented lawyer also created the National Security and Fraud Detection Directorate in order to guarantee the integrity and legality of the immigration system.
The Cuban-American began his government service at the Department of Justice, where he served as a United States Deputy Attorney for the Central District of California, specializing in the prosecution of white collar crimes. After nearly nine years as a federal prosecutor, he became the nation’s youngest federal prosecutor, overseeing cases including the investigation and prosecution of financial fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, public corruption, violent crimes. , cybercrime, environmental crime, international money laundering, and securities fraud.
Mayorkas has also developed a legal career in the private sector, at O’Melveny & Myers and most recently as a partner at the firm WilmerHale, where he has specialized in strategic advice and crisis management. It serves various non-profit organizations focused on providing legal services to the poor, refugee resettlement, and education for disadvantaged youth.