The announcement was immediately met with praise from immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers, as well as former and current officials who have expressed concern over the politicization of the department from some of its top leaders.
Over the last four years, the rotating acting leadership at DHS has disrupted some of President Donald Trump’s actions, including a second attempt to curtail the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s also contributed to unpredictability within the department.
In responding to the news, Mayorkas alluded to the challenges facing DHS and cited his background as an immigrant.
“When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones,” Mayorkas tweeted.
If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first Latino and immigrant to serve at the helm of the department, which has been pounded and dragged into politics under Trump.
Mayorkas had been the rumored pick for weeks — a welcome selection among some current and former officials who emphasized the need for a leader with experience at DHS. And to that end, Mayorkas has plenty.
Under Obama, Mayorkas served as both the DHS deputy secretary and the director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, an immigration agency within the department, where he was integral to the implementation of DACA. The program, which the Trump administration has tried to end, shields from deportation undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.