Mr Biden introduced several Cabinet-level nominees as he declared “America is back … at the head of the table” on global affairs. He previewed a foreign policy that will seek to restore America’s relationships with other countries and depart from the Trump administration’s hardline policies.
That includes what he called “years of … outright cruelty at DHS,” an apparent reference to Mr Trump’s immigration policies like one to separate migrant families at the US-Mexico border.
The incoming president took a shot at the outgoing one, who has been accused of pressing his national security leaders to bring him findings that align with his personal beliefs, when he said: “They will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said the team she and the incoming commander in chief selected will follow “facts,” another dig at Mr Trump.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Mr Biden’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, a Cuban-born immigrant would would be the first Latino to lead the agency, talked about his background after being introduced by the president.
“I will work day in night in the service of our nation,” he said, "and to bring honor to my parents."
The family fled the Castro revolution for the United States when he was young.
Coincidentally, Tuesday was his birthday.
“Happy birthday, man,” Mr Biden said, turning to nod to his DHS nominee. “He’s 21.”
Those in the room chuckled and the president-elect struck a wide grin.
The department he is being asked to lead “has a noble mission, to help keep us safe and to advance our proud history as a country of welcome,” Mr Mayorkas said.
“I'm proud that for the first time ever, the department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows we are a nation of laws and values,” the president-elect said of his nominee.