March 27 (UPI) — Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has fired all but three members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Mayorkas dismissed almost all members Friday, including Democrats and Republicans, and allies of former Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.
Mayorkas, the first immigrant and first Latino to lead DHS, was sworn in last month on the same day President Joe Biden signed executive orders to reform the nation’s immigration policies, including one to reunify migrant families separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy.
Biden nominated Mayorkas, who previously served as deputy secretary from 2013 to 2016, in November.
“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,” Mayorkas wrote in the letter. “I will reconstitute the HSAC in the next few weeks, once the new model has been developed.”
Mayorkas added that he was retaining three members, William Bratton, who is listed on the DHS website as executive chairman, Karen Tandy, listed as vice chairwoman, and William Webster, chairman emeritus.
The rest of the HSAC members were fired.
More than 30 members of the HSAC, which was set up to provide the DHS with advice and expertise on homeland security, were dismissed in the transition, according to Politico. The positions were unpaid.
“While I respect the right for a DHS secretary to alter the HSAC to address their needs, dismissing the entire council outright and stopping a lot of important work (that is underway) is not the right approach,” former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted.
The move comes amid a migrant surge at the border and after Texas challenged Biden’s temporary halt on deportations earlier this year in a lawsuit due to an agreement with the Trump administration.
“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,” Mayorkas said in the letter Friday. “I expect to work closely with the HSAC and to rely on its members to help guide the department through a period of change.”