DHS Chief’s Involvement With ‘HIAS’ Raises Eyebrows With Borderwatchers

By Mark Anderson

When the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) on Feb. 13 condemned the House of Representatives’ close vote (214-213) to impeach Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro “Ali”  Mayorkas (D), the Maryland-based non-profit stated that the impeachment came from a “thin and partisan majority in the House” engaging in “political theater” while “further fanning the flames of resentment against immigrants and asylum seekers.” Why was the HIAS so quick to defend “Ali” and condemn the first impeach­ment of a cabinet official since War Secretary William Belknap in 1876?

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Evidently, the organization’s biting remarks, issued by HIAS President and CEO Mark Hatfield, stem from the fact Mayorkas, who is of Jewish ancestry, was an HIAS board member for about one year, until early 2021, just before the former U.S. attorney became DHS secretary under President Joe Biden.

However, the Cuban-born Mayorkas served in two different DHS positions under the Obama administration. From 2009-2013, he served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and, from 2013 to 2016, he was DHS deputy secretary.


Born in 1959, Mayorkas, in his earlier career stages, reportedly was tough on crime. In December of 1998, with the recommendation of then-U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), he became the nation’s youngest U.S. attorney, for California’s Central District. There, he oversaw high-profile criminal cases including the prosecution of the Mexican mafia in death-penalty proceedings, along with the prosecution of Buford O. Furrow Jr. for murdering a federal postal worker, the prosecution of Litton Industries for the payment of bribes abroad, and for taking down the violent 18th Street Gang via Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act statutes.

However, in late 2000, Mayorkas was among the government officials who supported the controversial decision of then-President Bill Clinton (D) to grant executive clemency to narcotics trafficker Carlos Vignali Jr., the son of a wealthy Los Angeles businessman. The controversy stemmed from the monetary contributions to then-U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra (D) from Carlos’s father Horatio, and to two California State Assembly members. Becerra now heads Biden’s Health and Human Services Department.

Moreover, Mayorkas, in his first 60 days as Citizenship and Immigration Services director, implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that deferred the deportation of minor illegal arrivals but was expanded to include adults under President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump tried to phase DACA out amid lawsuits.

The nature of Mayorkas’s work in that position can partly be gauged by the fact that he received awards from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, and, perhaps most notably, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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Mayorkas has frequently acknowledged that his childhood in Cuba during the Castro Revolution, and his family’s decision to flee the island and head to Florida, and finally California, made him highly sensitive to the rights of immigrants and refugees, legal and illegal.

So, the question becomes: Is this man even cut out for the distinctly challenging job of securing the border, amid a record-setting invasion that many in Congress and among the public feel Mayorkas himself has enabled through dereliction of duty?

Mayorkas’s fitness for his current post became even more blatantly suspect when he threw an emotional fit at a recent committee hearing. Responding to questions from U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mayorkas inferred that tough questions about his DHS job performance are out of bounds because he has ancestors “who are Holocaust survivors.” Evidently, no senator informed Mayorkas that his personal family history is irrelevant as to whether he’s able and willing to do his constitutional duty to secure the border.


The curious convergences in Mayorkas’s life became all-the-more evident considering that the presence of HIAS has vastly grown to include 11 offices—“reaching from Mexico and Central America to South America and the Caribbean,” HIAS explains online, while calling itself “the world’s oldest refugee agency.”  Founded in 1903, HIAS was initially created “by Jews to help fellow Jews,” but then expanded into today’s “multi-continent, multi-pronged” organization “dedicated to helping forcibly displaced people.”

There’s no way one can prove whether the tens of thousands of unknowns from more than 100 countries traipsing across the southern border have been forcibly displaced. HIAS (and UN agencies that also aid and abet the invasion) evidently don’t bother much with such distinctions. The United States is simply treated as the sole dumping ground for people who should be largely deported and then aided, to some extent, in rebuilding their home nations so they can challenge whatever injustices exist, to the furthest practicable extent.

HIAS’s philosophy became crystal clear via a December 2020 opinion piece, which stated:

As America works to recover and rebuild from four years of vicious, xenophobic anti-immigrant policies, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having an empathetic person with Ali’s skills and background taking the reins at DHS.

The screed added that everything Mayorkas has done to help immigrants made him perfect for the top DHS job—which is fantastically inaccurate. “Homeland security” means just that, but Mayorkas lives in a foreign reality. The need for impeachment is self-evident, but getting the Senate to concur is an even tougher border to breach.


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