Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) submitted the following remarks to the Congressional Record on Ali Mayorkas’s nomination to be Secretary of Homeland Security:
“I rise to speak in support of Ali Mayorkas’s nomination to be Secretary of Homeland Security.
I believe Ali is uniquely qualified to face the challenges our nation is facing on day one. He brings to this office a diverse background and set of experiences in both the private and public sectors that will serve him well.
I’ve known Ali for many years and am proud to have recommended him to President Clinton for the position of United States attorney for the Central District of California. I also worked very closely with Ali while he served as President Obama’s director of U.S. citizenship and immigration services and later Deputy Secretary of DHS.
We all know that the role of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is challenging. Recent history has shown the threats facing the United States are diverse and ever-changing.
Over my many years working with Ali, I’ve witnessed his intelligence, kindness and thoughtfulness, as well as the compassion and morality he brings with him to work every day. In many ways, Ali’s life story reflects the spirit of the American dream, and I’d like to briefly pass along some of that story today.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Ali and his family fled to the United States in 1960. He attended the University of California-Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor’s degree with distinction in 1981. He went on to earn his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1985. From 1989 to 1998, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California where he prosecuted a wide array of federal crimes. Ali became the first U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California to be appointed from within the office when he was appointed in 1998.
He created the Civil Rights Section in the office to prosecute hate crimes, he developed an innovative program to address violent crime by targeting criminals’ possession of firearms, he led the prosecution of street gangs and he still had time to develop an after-school program to help at-risk youth.
Ali’s approach to enforcing our nation’s laws demonstrates a much-needed holistic view that understands the complexity of the challenge. He further developed his sharp legal skills as a partner at O’Melveny & Myers from 2001 to 2009 where he represented companies in high-profile and sensitive government enforcement cases. He was recognized by his worldwide firm for his leadership and was named by the National Law Journal in 2008 as one of the ‘50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.’
When Ali took over as Director of USCIS in 2009, he worked to administer our immigration laws while preserving our legacy as a nation of immigrants. He helped ensure integrity of our immigration laws by decreasing fraud and bringing accountability to our immigration system.
Significantly, under President Obama’s directive to grant deferred action to immigrants who arrived in this country as children, Ali successfully implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.
This program played a critical role for hundreds of thousands of young people who were able to get jobs, acquire driver’s licenses, purchase homes and go to college. I’m proud that Ali will continue to play a role in allowing these young people to pursue the American dream.
When Ali became the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama in 2013, he took on even more responsibility. He led the DHS response to the Ebola and Zika virus epidemics as well as cybersecurity negotiations with China.
He oversaw the agency’s complex efforts to combat terrorism and enhance the security and management of our borders. He worked to facilitate trade and travel and he oversaw the enforcement of our immigration laws.
And he was responsible for coordinating efforts to safeguard cyberspace and oversee disaster coordination with federal, state, local, international and private sector partners.
The United States faces new threats to our security every day. We need experienced, intelligent and moral leadership at DHS to combat those threats.
I have full confidence that Ali Mayorkas will bring all of those qualities to the role of Homeland Security Secretary. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security.”