Alejandro N. Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas is a counselor and litigator for companies facing their most significant and sensitive matters. He has held executive leadership positions at the highest levels of the US government, and he has tried more than 35 cases to a jury. Recognized as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal, and one of the most influential Latino leaders in the nation by Latino Leaders, Mr. Mayorkas has been one of the country’s most prominent litigators and impactful government leaders in a private sector and public service career spanning more than 30 years. Mr. Mayorkas has represented corporations in their times of crisis, often involving parallel civil, criminal, and congressional proceedings and subjects ranging from securities enforcement, consumer protection, and environmental regulation to public corruption, cybersecurity, the False Claims Act, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Building on his experience leading the US Department of Homeland Security’s response to Ebola and Zika, Mr. Mayorkas currently leads WilmerHale’s COVID-19 Coronavirus Task Force.

Early in his career as a litigator, from 1989 to 1998, Mr. Mayorkas served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, specializing in the prosecution of white- collar crime. He tried numerous criminal and civil cases to a jury, including Operation Polarcap, which was then the largest money laundering case in the nation, and the federal tax evasion and money laundering case against famed Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss. From 1996 to 1998, Mr. Mayorkas served as Chief of the General Crimes Section, where he trained all incoming Assistant US Attorneys in the investigation and trial of criminal cases.

In 1998, Mr. Mayorkas became the first-ever Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California who was promoted from within the office to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as the United States Attorney. He was the youngest US Attorney in the nation at the time, overseeing prosecutions of national significance, including the investigation and prosecution of financial fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, public corruption, cybercrime, environmental crime, international money laundering, securities fraud, and immigration fraud. 

After leaving the US Attorney’s Office, Mr. Mayorkas litigated cases, conducted internal investigations, and advised a wide range of Fortune 100 companies and their boards in their most sensitive and high-stakes cases, including those that involved parallel proceedings and cut across all branches of government.

In 2008, President-Elect Barack Obama selected Mr. Mayorkas to lead the US Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Transition Team. President Obama then nominated, and the United States Senate confirmed, Mr. Mayorkas in August 2009 to serve as the Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that administers the largest immigration system in the world. There, Mr. Mayorkas led a workforce of 18,000 people, realigned the agency’s organizational structure to more effectively accomplish its mission, and developed and implemented a series of transformative initiatives. He created the Office of Public Engagement to more effectively interact with, and be responsive to the needs of, the public that the agency serves. He created the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate to better meet the agency’s national security responsibilities. He developed and implemented within sixty days the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), through which more than 700,000 youth have benefited. And, he created and launched a series of other innovative and impactful initiatives and programs such as the Citizenship Awareness Initiative, the Entrepreneurs in Residence program, and the campaign against notario fraud. For his work on behalf of immigrants, Mr. Mayorkas received, among other recognition, awards from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

In 2013 President Obama appointed and the US Senate confirmed Mr. Mayorkas to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, where he managed some of the most complex and critical responsibilities of government, including preventing and responding to terrorist attacks on US soil, enhancing both the government’s and the private sector’s cybersecurity, combating the outbreak of diseases such as Ebola and Zika, enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, facilitating lawful trade and travel, and helping stricken communities recover from disasters. Mr. Mayorkas led a workforce of 240,000 people in the third-largest department of the federal government. As Deputy Secretary, Mr. Mayorkas was the Obama Administration’s highest ranking Cuban American. In 2016, Mr. Mayorkas negotiated with the government of Cuba the first homeland security Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.

For his service as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Mayorkas received the Department’s Distinguished Service Award, its highest civilian honor; the US Coast Guard’s Distinguished Service Award; a special commendation from the National Security Agency for his achievements in national security and, specifically, cybersecurity; and, numerous additional awards and commendations.

Mr. Mayorkas joined WilmerHale in November 2016 and resumed his representation of clients in their most significant and high-stakes litigation, internal investigations, and parallel proceedings. With his diverse experience in both the public and private sectors, Mr. Mayorkas helps companies address crises that span from the courtroom to the halls of Congress and in the public eye.


  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America in the areas of bet-the-company litigation and commercial litigation, 2007–2021
  • Named as one of Lawdragon Magazine’s “500 Leading Lawyers in America,” 2017
  • Distinguished Service Medal, US Department of Homeland Security, 2016 (Highest Civilian Honor)
  • Distinguished Public Service Award, US Coast Guard, 2016 (Highest Civilian Honor)
  • Special Commendation, National Security Agency, 2016 (Contributions to National Security, Advancement of the Cybersecurity Mission)
  • Resolution of Commendation, Major City Chiefs of Police, 2016
  • Recognized in Latino Leaders as one of the 101 most influential Latino leaders in the nation, 2011–2015, 2019
  • Award Recipient, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 2015
  • Award Recipient, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, 2014
  • Award Recipient, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, 2013
  • Recognized as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America,” National Law Journal, 2008
  • US Postal Inspection Service Award, 2000 (Successful Prosecution of Buford O. Furrow, Jr.)
  • Special Commendation, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1995 (Successful Prosecution of Operation Polarcap)

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Loyola Law School, 1985

    • BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1981

      with distinction

  • Admissions

    • California

    • District of Columbia

  • Government Experience

    • Department of Homeland Security

      Deputy Secretary
    • Department of Homeland Security

      Director, US Citizenship and Immigration Services
    • Department of Justice

      United States Attorney's Office

      US Attorney, Central District of California
    • Department of Justice

      United States Attorney's Office

      Assistant US Attorney, Chief, General Crimes Section, Central District of California
    • Department of Justice

      United States Attorney's Office

      Assistant US Attorney, Major Frauds Section, Central District of California