Biden fires majority of DHS advisory council members
The Biden administration on Friday fired most members of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) independent advisory board, including those appointed by both Democrats and Republicans.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent a letter to the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) announcing that in “the service of an orderly transition to a new model for the HSAC, I have ended the term of current HSAC members effective March 26, 2021.”
The letter, which was first obtained by Politico, added that the council, made up of former intelligence and security officials and other experts who advise the secretary on a range of policy matters, will be formed again “in the next few weeks, once the new model has been developed.”
Mayorkas thanked the council members for their service, adding, “I am considering how the HSAC can bring the greatest value to the Department and how the expertise, judgment, and counsel of its members can be harnessed most effectively to advance the Department’s mission.”
“I expect to work closely with the HSAC and to rely on its Members to help guide the Department through a period of change,” he continued.
The letter effectively dismissed most members, which included former National Security Agency director Keith Alexander, former acting DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Tom Homan.
Mayorkas, however, specified that William Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner, and Karen Tandy, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, will remain in their respective roles of chairman and vice chair.
Former FBI and CIA Director William Webster will also stay on in his role as chair emeritus.
Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert James Carafano, who was named to the board under DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, told Politico he was “really disappointed” by Friday’s decision.
“I thought this was the most talented board they ever had in terms of the broad expertise they brought to the department,” he said. “I think it’s a loss to the department.”
The changes come as President Biden aims to shift away from the immigration policies of former President Trump, while also facing a rapid surge of migrants, especially unaccompanied minors, at the southern border.
Biden has faced scrutiny from members of both parties in his administration’s use of detention centers for migrant children, especially after condemning Trump for his treatment of migrants at the border.
A CNN report published Friday found that while Biden has committed to ending several Trump-era immigration policies, he has kept in place a pandemic health order that has been used to expel more than half of the migrants at the southern border in recent weeks.
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