The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas, a Cuban American, becomes the first Latino and first immigrant to serve as secretary of DHS, an agency tasked broadly with securing the nation from threats.
Fifty-six senators voted in favor of confirmation, with 43 senators opposed.
Under Donald Trump’s administration, DHS got more intensely involved in immigration issues, with then-DHS heads Kirstjen Nielsen, Kevin McAleenan and Chad Wolf overseeing the process of separating South and Central American families hoping to enter the United States through the southern border.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a task force to help identify and unite the more than 500 immigrant children still separated from their families due to Trump’s efforts. Mayorkas is set to lead the task force, which will include officials from his agency, the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Biden named Mayorkas, who held two high-ranking posts at DHS in the Obama administration, as his pick for secretary in late November. Mayorkas previously served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and later as deputy secretary of homeland security.