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Tag: Homeland Security

Biden Picks Mayorkas to Become First Hispanic, Immigrant to Lead Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden tapped Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first immigrant and Hispanic to lead the Department of Homeland Security. 

Mayorkas, 61, served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama. A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term. 

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

“When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge,” Mayorkas tweeted. “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.”

Four Potential Homeland Security Secretaries Under President-Elect Biden

Joe Biden, via Shutterstock.com.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden with be tasked with reforming the Department of Homeland Security and that will begin with picking a new leader. 

Axios has identified four potential picks for Biden’s Homeland Security secretary.

One is Alejandro Mayorkas, the former deputy secretary and the architect of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). A former U.S. attorney who emigrated to Cuba as a child, Mayorkas is currently a partner at the law firm WilmerHale. 

A second candidate is California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a son of Mexican immigrants who has opposed Trump’s immigration policies. Becerra also served in Congress from 1993 to 2017, representing downtown Los Angeles. 

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida’s 10th Congressional District, is a third potential pick. Although Demings has less immigration experience than the other candidates, she did work in law enforcement for three decades. For four years, she served as Orlando’s first female police chief. 

A four potential pick is Lisa Monaco, who served as Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism advisor. Monaco also has ties to Biden, serving as his aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1990s and working with him recently as a member of his Public Health Advisory Committee that is hammering out a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Federal Judge Rules Wolf Was Unlawfully Appointed to Head Homeland Security

Acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge ruled Saturday that Chad Wolf, the acting Homeland Security secretary, was unlawfully appointed to his position and therefore lacked authority to limit work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York found that Wolf’s memo limiting the work permits of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children was invalid, The Washington Post reports.

Garaufis said Wolf appeared to be serving in his role unlawfully because his appointment failed to follow established law.

In September, another judge blocked the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions because Wolf appeared to lack the authority to introduce them.

The latest ruling raises questions about Wolf’s ability to implement policies in the final months of Trump’s presidency. 

Homeland Security has defended Wolf’s appointment, saying he is serving lawfully. 

Two Top Homeland Security Officials Forced to Resign Amid Trump Purge

By Steve Neavling

Two top Homeland Security officials have been forced to resign by the White House as President Trump continues to remove anyone who hasn’t demonstrated “complete loyalty.” 

Bryan Ware, a senior policy aide at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Valerie Boyd, the top official for international affairs at Homeland Security, are the latest national security officials to resign under pressure, The Washington Post reports.

“They’re looking for complete loyalty, and someone with experience serving different administrations is not perceived as sufficiently loyal,” one person who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Post

Boyd previously served in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 

In her resignation letter, Boyd told acting secretary Chad Wolf that she hopes the administration will “act with honor” by creating a peaceful transition to a new presidency. 

“It has been my belief that people of character should support the institution of the Presidency and work within it to inform and influence policy decisions that reflect well on the people’s government,” Boyd wrote. “This belief has been tested many times these past few years, and it is my fervent prayer that I made the best possible choices. I wish you and our colleagues across the government the strength to act with honor in the months ahead.”

Ware told The Post, “I’m proud of the work that I did. I’m proud of what the agency accomplished and proud to have had the privilege to serve the country.”

Neither the White House nor Homeland Security would comment. 

Former DHS Chief of Staff Comes Out As Anonymous Trump Author

Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security chief of staff.

By Steve Neavling

Miles Taylor, the former Homeland Security chief of staff, revealed himself as the anonymous author of a New York Times op-ed and a book that was heavily critical of President Trump. 

“To be clear, writing those works was not about eminence (they were published without attribution), not about money (I declined a hefty monetary advance and pledged to donate the bulk of the proceeds), and not about crafting a score-settling ‘tell all’ (my focus was on the President himself and his character, not denigrating former colleagues),” Taylor wrote in a Medium post.

Taylor, who denied being “Anonymous” as recently as August, said he struggled with the decision to attack the president and said he “wanted this President to succeed” when he first joined the administration with John Kelly, Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary and later the White House chief of staff. 

But, he wrote, someone had to hold Trump accountable. 

“Too often in times of crisis, I saw Donald Trump prove he is a man without character, and his personal defects have resulted in leadership failures so significant that they can be measured in lost American lives,” Taylor wrote. “I witnessed Trump’s inability to do his job over the course of two-and-a-half years.”

Taylor also was the chief of staff to Secretary Kirstjen, serving at DHS from 2017 to 2019. 

Chad Wolf Faces Pointed Questions at Homeland Security Confirmation Hearing

Acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf fielded pointed questions during his Senate confirmation Wednesday and denied a whistleblower’s allegations that he pressured employees to downplay Russian election interference.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Wolf called the whistleblower’s claims “patently false.”

In a written complaint in August, Brian Murphy, the former chief of intelligence at DHS, accused acting Wolf of directing him to suppress assessments on Russia and later withhold a report on Russian propaganda attacking Joe Biden’s mental health.

“It is patently false. It is a fabrication, completely,” Wolf told the committee.

Wolf said Murphy was reassigned to Homeland Security’s management division following news that his office collected intelligence on protesters and journalists in Portland. But in the complaint, Murphy said the real reason for his demotion was his raising concerns about the orders.

At the start of the hearing, Sen. Gar Peters, D-Mich., said, “Rhetoric and political ideology cannot drive intelligence reports, and it should not predetermine the actions of any federal department,” The Associated Press reports.

It’s not yet clear if Wolf has the votes to be confirmed.

Courts and the Government Accountability Office have both suggested Wolf is not legally qualified to hold the position because he was appointed through an invalid process.

Wolf is Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary. The last Senate-confirmed secretary was Kirstjen Nielsen, who was forced out in April 2019.

Homeland Security’s Chad Wolf Set for Confirmation Hearing Wednesday Amid Uncertainties

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acing Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee Wednesday for a confirmation hearing amid doubts about his legitimacy as a candidate.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans to introduce Wolf at the hearing after President Tump officially submitted his nomination for Wolf on Sept. 10.

Wolf is Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary, but his confirmation is anything but a certainty. The last Senate-confirmed secretary was Kirstjen Nielsen, who was forced out in April 2019.

Courts and the Government Accountability Office have both suggested Wolf is not legally qualified to hold the position because he was appointed through an invalid process.

“Because the incorrect official assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, subsequent amendments to the order of succession made by that official were invalid,” the GAO said in August.

In a separate ruling last week, a Maryland judge blocked the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions, saying Wolf appears to lack the authority to introduce them.

The White House has ignored the opinions and is moving forward with the nomination.

Whether Wolf has the votes to be confirmed remains unknown.

FBI Director Wray to Testify Before Congressional Committee, But Chad Wolf to Defy Subpoena to Attend

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray is scheduled to testify before a House committee on Thursday about homeland security threats.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who was subpoenaed to testify, said he does not plan to attend the hearing, The Washington Post reports.

The House Committee on Homeland Security hearing is expected to explore intelligence assessments, which likely will include interference in the presidential election. Senior federal officials warned last month that Russia is trying to undermine Joe Biden’s candidacy.

Officials have said they are increasing security to limit outside interference.