CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez reports that new hires at DHS include David Shahoulian, the new assistant secretary for border security and immigration and the former chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, which carried out expansive investigations into the prior administration’s abuses against asylum-seekers and their children. “He’s joined by Adam Hunter, who serves as deputy assistant secretary on immigration for DHS,” CNN continued. “Hunter comes from the Refugee Council USA, a coalition of 29 nongovernmental agencies focused on refugee protection.”
Like the report notes, Biden has committed to raising refugee admissions to the U.S., from a shameful low of 15,000 set by the prior administration, to 125,000. There are some hopeful signs just days after Biden’s inauguration, following a report that the State Department is reportedly set on resuming visa applications for thousands of Afghans left stranded after aiding U.S. military as translators and in other roles.
“Other familiar names in immigration circles, like Tyler Moran and Esther Olavarria, have also come to fill top roles,” CNN continued. Moran worked as director of advocacy group Immigration Hub and an adviser for former Sen. Harry Reid, while Olavarria served as immigration counsel for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and more recently with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as well as Immigration Hub.
It’s a welcome departure from the previous administration’s appointment of anti-immigrant figures to immigration roles, like the truly very strange Ken Cuccinelli. The anti-immigrant loudmouth unlawfully served as acting DHS deputy and acting USCIS director, and on his way out the door put roadblocks in place attempting to sabotage the Biden administration from implementing changes through executive action. And, just like Cuccinelli intended, Texas’ corrupt attorney general is already suing.
Alvarez reports that Moran and Olavarria struck a very different tone at a recent US Conference of Mayors meeting. Speaking about the prior administration’s policies attacking immigrant families, Olavarria said “[t]here are policies that ignored the decades—and centuries, actually—of contributions that immigrants have made to our economy, to our society, to our culture. We’d rescind those policies and return to a country that welcomes immigrants and acknowledges their contributions.”
Following pro-sedition Sen. Josh Hawley blocking the quick confirmation of DHS secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas (whose nomination was also applauded by immigrant rights advocates), the Senate Homeland Security Committee cleared his nomination by a 7-4 vote, but it remained “unclear when full Senate will take up his nomination,” The Wall Street Journal reporter Michelle Hackman tweeted. The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed secretary since Kirstjen Nielsen, a top family separation co-conspirator, in 2019.