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Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service...

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Homeland Security Department

Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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(Chet Susslin)

Ask Mayorkas, 53, about his job and he'll tell you it's an ideal blend of his identity as an immigrant (his family came to the U.S. as political refugees from Cuba when he was a year old) and a former federal prosecutor. He was appointed U.S. attorney for the Central District of California in 1998, after serving nine years as an assistant U.S. attorney. After Bill Clinton's presidency, he went to the private sector in the Los Angeles office of the law firm O'Melveny & Myers before coming to Washington to head Obama's transition team for the Justice Department's Criminal Division. While there, Mayorkas interviewed for his current position, in which he oversees an agency at the center of Congress's legislative agenda. During past attempts at immigration reform, people have wondered whether CIS would be ready. "I think we have demonstrated very powerfully and emphatically that the answer to that is yes," Mayorkas said. He points to his agency's ability to implement within 60 days the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows agents not to deport children and which Mayorkas says "has been lauded as government at its best." Mayorkas received his J.D. from Loyola Law School and a B.A. from the University of California (Berkeley). He was recently nominated to be the agency's deputy secretary.

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