Alejandro Mayorkas

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The Honorable
Alejandro Mayorkas
Alejandro Mayorkas.jpg
6th United States Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
Assumed office
December 23, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Rafael Borras (Acting)
Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
In office
August 12, 2009 – December 23, 2013
Preceded by Jonathan Scharfen (Acting)
Succeeded by Lori Scialabba (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1959-11-24) November 24, 1959 (age 56)
Havana, Cuba
Political party Democratic
Alma mater UC Berkeley
Loyola Law School

Alejandro Mayorkas (born November 24, 1959) is a Cuban-American lawyer who serves as the Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Early life and education[edit]

Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to the United States at the age of one.[1] He graduated from Beverly Hills High School and from the University of California at Berkeley.[2][3] He received his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School.[3]


Mayorkas was the United States Attorney for the Central District of California from 1998 to 2001.[4] According to the Washington Post, this job involved overseeing prosecutions for public corruption, immigration, narcotics trafficking and money laundering.[1]

In 2001, Mayorkas was criticized by the House Committee on Government Reform for his involvement in the commutation of the prison sentence of Carlos Vignali, who had served six years of a fifteen-year sentence for his role in a drug-trafficking operation when he was granted clemency by the then-United-States-President Bill Clinton,[5] one of 176 commutations and pardons performed by Clinton during his last few hours in office.[6]

According to Politico, Mayorkas had phoned the White House to argue that Vignali should be released, apparently in answer to a request by Vignali's father, a well-known Los Angeles businessman.[7] Unknown to Mayorkas, Vignali's father had been suspected of drug trafficking by federal law enforcement, but there had never been enough evidence to bring a case against him. Mayorkas apologized, saying, "It is reasonable to expect that someone in my position would do his or her due diligence to learn that information, ... I made a mistake."[5]

In 2008, Mayorkas was selected as a member of Barack Obama's Justice Department review team.[7] That same year, the National Law Journal named Mayorkas as one of the 50 most influential minority lawyers in America.[6] He became the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2009, ultimately serving until 2013. He was nominated for the post by President Obama in April 2009 and was approved by the United States Senate in August of that year.[3] As of 2011, the USCIS was the largest immigration bureau in the world, and Mayorkas had 18,000 people under his supervision.[1][3]

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security[edit]

In June 2013, President Obama nominated Mayorkas as the Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.[8] Mayorkas' role in managing the EB-5 Visa program was questioned by an Inspector General's report.[9] A meeting with former GreenTech Automotive executive and Virginia governor-elect Terry McAuliffe was also questioned.[10]

On December 16, 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for cloture on Mayorkas' nomination to cut off a filibuster by Republican senators. On December 19, 2013, the Senate voted 55-45 for cloture on his nomination. The next day, the Senate confirmed Mayorkas in a 54-41 vote and he was sworn-in on December 23.[11][12] No Republicans voted yes. Mayorkas reports to Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson.[13]


  1. ^ a b c Fox, Tom (July 21, 2010). "Immigration Services head: From Havana to Washington D.C.". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ Emmis Communications (May 1999). Los Angeles Magazine. Emmis Communications. p. 30. ISSN 1522-9149. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services". U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ Meyer, Josh (May 1, 2009). "Alejandro Mayorkas tapped to head immigration agency". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ a b Rohrlich, Ted (March 26, 2002). "Informants Named Vignali's Father". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Obama picks Alejandro Mayorkas to head Immigration agency". Daily News, Los Angeles. May 1, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Carrie Budoff Brown (November 14, 2008). "Clinton scandal figure on Justice team". Politico. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  8. ^ Martinez, Jennifer; Sasso, Brendan (June 27, 2013). "Tech cheers passage of Senate immigration bill". The Hill. Retrieved June 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross (2015-03-24). "Top Homeland Official Alejandro Mayorkas Accused of Political Favoritism". Retrieved 2016-05-29. 
  10. ^ Ben Pershing and Tom Hamburger (2011-02-25). "Homeland security deputy nominee says he didn't give Terry McAuliffe special treatment". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  11. ^ Mayorkas confirmed, 54-41,; accessed January 22, 2015.
  12. ^ Mayorkas profile,; accessed January 22, 2015.
  13. ^ Bennett, Brian (December 20, 2013). "Senate confirms new Homeland Security deputy and IRS chief". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Scharfen
Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Succeeded by
Lori Scialabba
Preceded by
Rafael Borras
United States Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security