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Name: Mayorkas, Alejandro
Current Position: Former Director

A former U.S. Attorney who was involved in a controversial clemency decision during the Clinton years, Alejandro “Ali” Mayorkas has served as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since August 2009.

Born on November 24, 1959, in Havana, Cuba, Mayorkas was an infant when his family relocated to Beverly Hills. Both his parents were Jewish, his mother having fled from Romania to Cuba during World War II.
Mayorkas was co-captain of the Beverly Hills High School tennis team and president of his junior class. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley (1981), and his JD from Loyola Law School (1985).
Mayorkas spent a year as an assistant law librarian at a Beverly Hills law firm and then almost two years as a clerk at the law office of Dennis M. Harley. From February 1986 until April 1987, he was with the Los Angeles office of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Taylor. He then joined Cooper, Epstein & Hurewitz, a Beverly Hills entertainment law firm. Mayorkas returned to Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler for a few months in 1989, before joining the U.S. Department of Justice as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, a position he held for seven years until 1998.
From 1996 until 1998, he served as chief of the office’s General Crimes Section, where he trained and mentored other assistant U.S. Attorney new hires. Among his more high-profile cases was the prosecution of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss for money laundering and tax evasion. While Fleiss was in prison, the E cable channel ran a show that claimed Fleiss had cooperated with federal narcotics agents as an informant, a revelation that, if true, would have put her in great danger with her fellow prisoners. After the show aired, Mayorkas called the prison and told the authorities there that the accusation was false, thus saving Fleiss.
In 1998, on the recommendation of Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein of California, President Bill Clinton appointed Mayorkas the U.S. Attorney for California’s central district, making him, at age 39, the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation at that time. During his last year at this post, he received unfavorable media coverage for his role in the decision by Clinton to commute the prison sentence of high-level cocaine dealer Carlos Vignali. Vignali’s father, Horacio Vignali, was a campaign contributor to Democratic politicians.
When Clinton left the White House, Mayorkas left the Justice Department and in September 2001 he became a litigation partner at the Los Angeles-based law firm O’Melveny and Myers, where he represented large corporations and other clients in high-profile cases in the U.S. and overseas, until 2009.
Mayorkas has been an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School and a frequent lecturer around the country. He has served as a member of the California Council on Criminal Justice, a committee of the California state government, and the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice. Mayorkas also has been a director of the Federal Bar Association’s Los Angeles Chapter and has served as a member of several committees of the American Bar Association. He’s served on the audit committee and the board of governors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the board of trustees of Drew University and the board of directors of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, which specializes in providing legal services for low-income seniors. He has also been a board member of United Friends of the Children, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and the Anti-Defamation League.
Mayorkas and his wife, Tanya, have two daughters, Giselle and Amelia.
Alejandro (Ali) Mayorkas, Director (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
Alejandro Mayorkas (WhoRunsGov, Washington Post)
Beg Your Pardongate (by The Prowler, American Spectator)
The Enforcer (by Ross Johnson, Los Angeles Magazine)
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