Dec 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's Homeland Security pick wins law enforcement support

Alejandro Mayorkas in a suite and tie speaking at an event with VP-elect Kamala Harris masked and standing in the background.

Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A number of immigration and law enforcement groups are publicly backing Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas after he failed to receive a single Republican vote when he last faced Senate confirmation, according to support letters reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Mayorkas would be the first immigrant and Latino to run the Department of Homeland Security, and the push from typically right-leaning law enforcement groups in particular could give him a critical boost with GOP lawmakers.

Between the lines: Mayorkas, a Cuban-American, already was a favorite among immigration advocates. Letters of support from Major County Sheriffs of America, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, the National Fusion Center Association and the National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition are being sent to the Senate this week.

  • Mayorkas "has a strong understanding of how critical state and local law enforcement and investigative agencies are in fulfilling the shared homeland security mission," Mark Keel, president of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, wrote in his letter.
  • “We're gratified by the overwhelmingly positive reaction and strong bipartisan acclaim that Alejandro's nomination has received," Sean Savett, a Biden transition spokesperson, told Axios.

The bottom line: All of President-elect Biden's Cabinet nominees face some level of challenge if Mitch McConnell keeps his Senate majority.

  • The risk of rejection is especially acute for Mayorkas, who did not receive a single Republican vote in 2013 during his confirmation as deputy secretary of DHS because of an open IG investigation.
  • Looking ahead, he will likely face criticism over findings from 2015 that he showed favoritism toward certain applicants for a wealthy investor visa program while serving as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as the AP reported.
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