DHS Nominee Alejandro Mayorkas Testifies On Border, Capitol Riot : Biden Transition Updates Alejandro Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead DHS, was previously the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
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From Border Wall To Capitol Riot, Homeland Security Nominee Takes Senate Questions

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From Border Wall To Capitol Riot, Homeland Security Nominee Takes Senate Questions

From Border Wall To Capitol Riot, Homeland Security Nominee Takes Senate Questions

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/957302583/958472520" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today the Senate began holding confirmation hearings for some of President-elect Biden's Cabinet nominees. Among them, his choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: If he's confirmed, Alejandro Mayorkas will face a range of challenges, from immigration and the border to domestic extremists. In his opening statement, Mayorkas called the January 6 storming of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters horrific.

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ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS: If I should have the honor of being confirmed, I will do everything I can to ensure that the tragic loss of life, the assault on law enforcement, the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy, the terror that you felt - your colleagues, staff and everyone present - will not happen again.

NAYLOR: DHS is also partially responsible for cybersecurity. In the wake of a massive hacking of government computers identified as coming from Russia, Mayorkas said DHS has to step up its game.

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MAYORKAS: The cybersecurity of our nation will be one of my highest priorities because I concur with you that the threat is real and the threat is every day, and we have to do a much better job than we are doing now.

NAYLOR: Under Trump, DHS has been focused on border security, overseeing construction of miles of wall along the southern border. President-elect Biden has pledged to halt construction of the barrier. Mayorkas was asked if he would attempt to dismantle any of it. In response, he cited the late Senator John McCain, whom Mayorkas called an American hero.

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MAYORKAS: The border is varied depending on the geography, depending on the specific venue and depending on the conduct of individuals around it. And we don't need, nor should we have, a monolithic answer to that varied and diverse challenge.

NAYLOR: Mayorkas faced tough questions from several Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security panel over his actions as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in the Obama administration. An inspector general's report said that Mayorkas helped prominent Democrats involved in a visa program. Mayorkas countered he helped any number of people navigate it.

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MAYORKAS: The case that you mentioned and the three cases that are cited in the inspector general's report are three of hundreds and hundreds of cases that I became involved in at the request of senators and members of the House of Representatives on both sides of the aisle.

NAYLOR: It's unclear how many Republicans will oppose Mayorkas. Missouri Republican Josh Hawley said he will not allow the nomination to be fast-tracked because of Biden's immigration proposal. But with a working majority of Democrats, Mayorkas is likely to win Senate confirmation, if not right away.

Brian Naylor, NPR News.

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