Born in Havana, Cuba, Alejandro "Ali" Mayorkas' family fled from the country in 1960 when Mayorkas was barely a year old. The family entered the United States as refugees and settled in California. In his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Mayorkas shared how significant this move was for his family:
"My father lost the country of his birth, and my mother, for the second time in her young life, was forced to flee a country she considered home. But our flight to security gave us the gift of this wonderful new homeland. I know how very fortunate I am."
Mayorkas served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California from 1989 to 1998. During this time, he served as Chief of the Office's General Crimes Section, where he trained and mentored Assistant U.S. Attorney new hires.
From 1998 until 2001, Mr. Mayorkas was the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. At 39 years old, Mayorkas was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation at that time.
From 2001 until his USCIS appointment, Mr. Mayorkas had been a partner with the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers.
Mayorkas holds a J.D. from Loyola Law School and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Nominated by President Barack Obama on April 24, 2009 and unanimously confirmed on August 7th by the Senate, Mayorkas was sworn in as USCIS' third director on August 12, 2009. Mayorkas accepted the appointment, saying:
"The USCIS mission is rooted in the vision of our founding fathers. My family, like millions of others, came to this country to pursue our dreams in a land of liberty and opportunity. I am committed to administering our country’s immigration and naturalization laws efficiently and with fairness, honesty, and integrity."
Mayorkas was named as one of the "50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America" in 2008 by the National Law Journal. He serves on the Board of Directors of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the disadvantaged with access to justice. He also serves on the Board of Directors of United Friends of the Children, a non-profit organization devoted to the well-being of foster youth in Los Angeles County.
Mayorkas and wife Tanya have two young daughters, Giselle and Amelia.