February 25, 2021 11:14

Homeland Security Faces Overhaul Under Biden

President-elect Joe Biden has said that one of his first priorities will be rolling back President Donald Trump’s restrictive immigration policies. To do it, he may have to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security, reports the New York Times. The department, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has helped enforce some of Trump’s most divisive policies, like separating families at the border, banning travel from Muslim-majority countries and building his border wall. When the president framed his campaign around law and order this year, homeland security leaders deployed tactical officers to protect statues and confront protesters. After agents were videotaped hauling demonstrators off the streets of Portland, into unmarked vans, department critics called for systemic changes to the agency, or even its dismantlement.

Interviews with 16 current and former homeland security officials and advisers involved with Biden’s transition and a review of his platform, suggest an agenda that aims to incorporate climate change in department policy, fill vacant posts and bolster responsibilities Trump neglected, including disaster response and cybersecurity. Undoing Trump’s immigration policies will initially dominate. Many Trump administration policies cannot be immediately undone, and Biden could face an early test if migration to the southwestern border surges after Trump’s departure. Some transition officials support Alejandro Mayorkas, a former homeland security deputy secretary and director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, to be the next secretary. His supporters believe his background as a U.S. Attorney in California and as a Cuban immigrant would appeal to both the law enforcement officials in the agency and U.S. immigrant communities.

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