Although the judicial dispute over who will be the next president of the United States continues, Democrat Joe Biden has already announced part of his Executive Cabinet; Latino Alejandro Mayorkas would be in charge of leading the Department of Homeland Security, which also deals with immigration issues.
The Cuban-American was already part of the Executive during Barack Obama’s administration with Biden as Vice President; on that occasion he served as Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that he now aspires to lead.
The immigration issue has always been a hot spot for Americans, and during the election campaign both Trump and Biden took on different positions. If the Democrat becomes President, there is already a notion of where his government will go with Mayorkas at the helm.
“It is an honor to be nominated and entrusted by the president-elect to serve. It is no small task to lead the Department of Homeland Security, but I will work to restore faith in our institutions and protect our security here at home,” Mayorkas thanked Biden through his social networks.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Mayorkas would become the first foreign-born person in charge of the Department responsible for border security.
Among the agencies in charge are also the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), whose actions have been criticized by immigrant rights advocates. It also includes the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Secret Service.
Biden promised to reverse many of Trump’s immigration policies; however, it must be remembered that it was the Obama administration that was responsible for creating the punitive immigrant cages. The designation of Mayorkas could open the door for continued rights violations.
Biden has already announced that he intends to rescind Trump’s travel bans on people from 13 countries. He also plans to send Congress immigration legislation that includes a legal path for 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.
The Democrat also hopes to revitalize the Deferred Action for Children Act (DACA) program that was launched by Obama and offered protection to illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and who had some level of education. It is an executive action that is at the discretion of immigration authorities.
Mayorkas joined the Obama administration in 2009 as director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. (USCIS). He was promoted to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and then confirmed in office in December 2014 following a Senate vote.
Alejandro Mayorkas: in favor of negotiations with Cuba
In 2015, Mayorkas traveled to Havana as the highest-ranking Cuban American in the Obama Administration to negotiate the first National Security agreement between the two countries. The agreement, signed in May 2016, relaxed sanctions and facilitated bilateral trade with the Cuban regime. While this was happening, the island’s population was increasingly repressed.
“This has been a very productive trip,” Mayorkas said at the time, “I believe that interaction with Cuba is in our interest and will be able to improve the life of the Cuban people,” he added.
Obama worked to establish several changes to Cuba policy during his administration; among the most significant changes was the repeal of the “Dry Feet, Wet Feet” policy, opened up travel to the Caribbean country, re-established diplomatic relations and relaxed restrictions on doing business on the island.
The “Dry Feet, Wet Feet” policy allowed immigrants from Cuba to enter only if they had set foot on the U.S. coast. The Obama administration repealed it at the request of the Cuban regime in the framework of negotiations with the island.
Most of these Obama measures left only evidence of the enrichment of the military in Cuba and of tyranny, while Cubans on the island were increasingly repressed. They never saw the benefits of the end of the embargo that Mayorkas sought during the Obama Administration.