Top DHS Lawyer Confirmed as Biden Agenda Faces Legal Turmoil

  • Obama administration attorney to serve as general counsel
  • Critical role as Biden agenda is beset by legal challenges

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The Department of Homeland Security will get a new top lawyer, with the Senate confirmation Monday of Jonathan Meyer as general counsel.

Meyer, who was confirmed in a 51-47 vote, will play a pivotal role in shaping and defending the Biden administration’s immigration, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism policies as the department’s chief legal official.

He was deputy general counsel and senior counselor at DHS during the Obama administration and most recently worked in private practice at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

John Moore/Getty Images
Haitian immigrants gather for processing with U.S. officials at a migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas, next to the Mexican border, on Sept. 21, 2021. Meyer will work with the Justice Department on immigration litigation.

As general counsel, Meyer will be tasked with advising agency leaders on legal risk and compliance with laws and executive orders—a role that’s especially important now as the Biden administration navigates high-stakes legal challenges to key policies.

Immigration issues, in particular, are tied up in court. Meyer and his team will work with Justice Department lawyers on litigation involving protections for young immigrants, pandemic restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border, asylum processes, and other matters.

DHS’s office of general counsel includes some 2,500 lawyers spread across headquarters and related agencies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at; Sarah Babbage at

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