Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has fired nearly all members of the National Security Advisory Council (HSAC), the latest sign from the agency of its intention to move away from the practices of the previous administration.
Mayorkas, in a letter sent Friday and obtained by Politico, told the committee that he is ending the terms of the current 32 members, and intends to “reconstitute” the council once a “new model” is developed.
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HSAC was created for members, who are not paid, to use their experience and knowledge on national security issues such as counterterrorism and immigration law enforcement to provide guidance to the clerk.
His current membership included Trump-era officials such as former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, former DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, and former Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan, but includes those appointed by Secretaries both Democrats and Republicans. administrations.
Mayorkas said President William Bratton, Vice President Karen Tandy and President Emeritus William Webster will remain in their positions to help the council move forward.
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“I am considering how the HSAC can bring the greatest value to the Department and how the experience, judgment and advice of its members can be used more effectively to further the Department’s mission,” he said. “I look forward to working closely with the HSAC and trusting its members to help guide the Department through a period of change.”
The agency said Mayorkas will conduct a “comprehensive review” to determine how the council can be used to advise the department, and will launch a redesigned HSAC with “diverse membership” representative of the country. He also stressed that he would be bipartisan.
Wolf criticized the move in a tweet.
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“While I respect the right of a DHS secretary to modify the HSAC to address their needs, firing the entire council and stopping a large amount of important work (that was in progress) is not the right approach,” he wrote.
The senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, John Katko, RN.Y., also criticized the move, saying it was a sign that the administration “has no intention of advocating a unifying, bipartisan approach to secure our homeland. “
“It is an absolute shame that Secretary Mayorkas has removed these respected national security leaders who have dedicated their careers to strengthening our national security posture,” he said in a statement. “I urge the Secretary to take a thoughtful approach as he reconstitutes the HSAC and be mindful of the message it intends to send.”
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The move comes as DHS has been in the limelight due to the dramatic escalation of the crisis on the southern border, which has left the administration struggling to cope with the influx of migrants. Critics have blamed the rise on the rollback of Trump-era border protections such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
DHS and Health and Human Services (HHS) recently called for federal employees to volunteer with the increase, but the administration has declined to call the situation a “crisis,” rather than calling it a “challenge. “.