Coalition of College and University Presidents Commends DHS Secretary Nominee Alejandro Mayorkas and His Record of Policies Impacting Immigrant and International Students

Mayorkas previously oversaw U.S immigration programs

January 14, 2021
Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, D.C.—Today, the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, expressed support for the history of inclusive and just immigration policies promulgated and implemented by Alejandro Mayorkas, the nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS. He brings substantial immigration and management experience, including his work as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Deputy Secretary of DHS under the Obama administration. A former U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles, Mayorkas also has experience protecting the nation from cyber criminals and terrorists.

While at DHS, Mayorkas played an instrumental role in developing the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to protect Dreamers from deportation; expanded access to work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders; strengthened Optional Practical Training for international students; and streamlined asylum relief for survivors of crime and human trafficking. During the Obama administration, Mayorkas regularly and constructively engaged with stakeholders to map out strategies to modernize our nation’s immigration system and expand access to relief and benefits guaranteed by our nation’s laws. Mayorkas also supported Temporary Protected Status (TPS) grants to Haiti, Nepal, Syria, and other countries–providing critical support for people and refugees fleeing persecution and instability. Finally, Mayorkas was instrumental in providing legal guidance that clarified that DACA in no way interfered with the ability of states to classify students as “residents” for the purposes of tuition and admission.

Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, stated: “We commend the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The challenges will be significant, but once confirmed, we are eager to work with Mayorkas and his team to better ensure humane, timely, accurate, and fair implementation of our immigration laws for immigrant and international students; including a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented students, access to U.S. colleges and universities for refugee students, and a robust welcome to international students and scholars.”

Louis Caldera, Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Alliance and a former university president and Secretary of the Army stated: “International students are one of America’s most powerful foreign policy tools that promote and preserve national security. Mayorkas is primed to ensure that the United States continues to be the destination of choice for the world’s most talented students, many becoming leading U.S. doctors, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. He will also help ensure immigrants and DACA holders are able to continue to serve proudly in our Armed Forces contributing to our nation’s security. With his own immigrant background, deep experience leading historic initiatives within the department, and commitment to ‘oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones,’ Mayorkas is well-positioned to lead an agency designed to protect our nation from threats, manage our borders, oversee the just implementation of our immigration laws; and improve our readiness, response to, and recovery from disasters.”

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The non-partisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level that are consistent with our heritage as a ‘nation of immigrants’ and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.