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Biden's Homeland Security czar vows to fight domestic terrorism

FILE PHOTO: Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee to be Secretary of Homeland Security, testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas, who last week became the first Latino and immigrant to hold the post, on Saturday reaffirmed his resolve to fight domestic terrorism, one of the greatest threats to the United States.

Mayorkas, who served as deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under President Barack Obama, was sworn after the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing Republican President Donald Trump.

“To see the insurrection, to see the horrific acts of Jan. 6 were not only personally devastating, but ... that created in me a commitment to redouble our efforts to fight hate and to fight one of the greatest threats that we face currently on our homeland, which is the threat of domestic terrorism,” Mayorkas told CNN in an interview that aired Saturday evening.

Mayorkas also said the Biden administration was working with “due urgency” on efforts to end a Trump-era policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which forced more than 65,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait for U.S. immigration court hearings.

“We are looking at that as recently as earlier today,” he said. “The urgency of that also cannot be overstated.”

When asked about recent hacks by Chinese and Russian groups of U.S. government computer systems, Majorkas said the administration was working with Congress to see what additional funding could be provided to enhance the security of federal infrastructure and information systems, as well as through public-private partnerships.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Daniel Wallis