The Senate confirms Alejandro Mayorkas as America's first head of the Latin American Homeland Safety Company
Alejandro Mayorkas, US President-elect Joe Biden's candidate for Homeland Security Director, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his nominations and candidates for national security at his interim headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware on November 24, 2020.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as head of the country's Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday. He was the first Latino to take on this role.
The Senate voted 56 to 43.
His rise to the top of the agency comes less than four weeks after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and the nation battled the coronavirus pandemic.
The agency, created after the 9/11 attacks, oversees border security, immigration enforcement, cybersecurity and disaster relief.
Mayorka's endorsement stalled last week when some Republicans argued that Biden's candidate on urgent immigration issues had not been properly screened. On Thursday, Mayorka's' nomination posed a procedural hurdle after the Senate voted to break a GOP filibuster.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Mayorkas "deserves no Senate endorsement."
"I will vote against his confirmation and ask our colleagues to do the same," said McConnell.
Mayorkas, who previously served as assistant secretary to DHS under former President Barack Obama, will also be the first foreign-born person to head the department. The 61-year-old Cuban immigrant mentioned his legacy in his opening speeches before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“The principles of home and security have been immensely important to my life. My father and mother brought me to this country to escape communism and give me the security, opportunity, and pride that American citizenship brings brings each of us. " Said Mayorkas.
"I was raised every day to appreciate what this country means to our families and the blessings of knowing it as our homeland," he added.
Mayorka's endorsement follows Avril Haines, the first woman of the leading nation's 18 intelligence services as director of national intelligence Lloyd Austin, the nation's first secretary on black defense, Janet Yellen, the first woman to head the Treasury Department, and Anthony Blinken as secretary of state and Pete Buttigieg as transport secretary.