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Biden Nominates Mayorkas for DHS Secretary

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Biden Nominates Mayorkas for DHS Secretary

The nomination creates several potential implications on the future of immigration policy and immigration reform. Here are the key takeaways


As we are 12 days away from inauguration day, President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas on November 23rd, for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security. The cabinet seat, which oversees the federal agency responsible for, among other things, enforcement and administration of immigration laws, will have a significant impact on relevant policies.

Having served the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Mayorkas’ presence in the department is a familiar one. Under the Obama Administration, Mayorkas served as DHS’s Deputy Secretary. He also served as the Director, for DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). His confirmation could mean a DHS that differs substantially from the one that under President Trump’s supervision. Mayorkas played a key role in the development of DACA and has been an outspoken supporter of the program, which protects individuals who unlawfully entered the United States as children. Trump has fought to repeal DACA throughout his presidency.

Experts anticipate Mayorkas’ assumption of office could stabilize a department that has been characterized by turbulence and condemnation under management by the Trump administration. In the past four years, the DHS has hosted five secretaries, only two of whom had been confirmed by the Senate. Most recently, in November 2019, Trump nominated Chad Wolf for the position, after former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan resigned. Acting Secretary Wolf has not yet been officially confirmed and his assumption of the position has been ruled illegal, resulting in the cancellation of some policy orders — including full suspension of DHS’s DACA rescission.

Biden’s nomination of an official with experience in the DHS and familiarity with the inner workings of USCIS, an agency central to the development and enforcement of a majority of immigration policies, is considered by supporters of the nomination as a start to departmental and administrative stability. He will be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead DHS if his nomination goes through.

One of Mayorkas immediate tasks, should the Senate confirm his nomination, will likely involve sorting out Trump’s more than 400 executive actions on immigration, which cover topics ranging from asylum and refugee policy to COVID-19 pandemic management. Although a successor administration can undo these actions, the processes involved could inflict serious delays in the grand scheme of immigration reform. These processes include notice and comment periods for new agency rules, referrals of certain matters of law to the U.S. Attorney General for review, and executive action aimed at reversing preexisting executive orders and policies. The President-elect has frequently alluded to substantial immigration policy changes within his first 100 days of office, but the practicality is still an issue.

If you have any questions regarding immigration law and how the Biden administration may impact you, do not hesitate to reach out to Ibrahim Law Offices so that we may help you.

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