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Feds Probe Iran Connection to Immigration Program

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 07:41 PM

Federal agents are investigating a Los Angeles shipping company and its Iranian-born owner who were part of a little-known immigration program that allowed the firm to recruit rich foreign investors to get visas and, potentially, green cards, ABC News reports.

An alarming internal Department Homeland Security memo outlines concerns that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has attempted to exploit the visa program "to infiltrate the United States," ABC News reports.

The program, known by the visa designation EB-5, offers foreign investors a way to bypass the traditional route to a Green Card, requiring they invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a certified company or project that creates U.S. jobs, ABC News explains.

American Logistics International first applied to participate in 2009 and first began submitting names of investors for visa approval in 2011, ABC News reports. And it kept its certification even as federal agents served a search warrant at the offices of a second shipping company, looking for records about ALI and its owner, Alireza Mahdavi, ABC News reports.

ABC News reports documents show investigators were looking into ties between a former employee of the second firm, Total Transportation Concepts, and American Logistics because the two companies shared common owners and executives, including Mahdavi.

The records show the TTC employee was suspected of ties to an Iranian terror network involved in bombing plots and attempted assassinations, ABC News reports.

In 2012, federal investigators sent an email to immigration officials to advise them against re-certifying American Logistics, warning that an approval "would likely have serious national security implications," ABC News reports.

"I strongly advise against a favorable adjudication," wrote a Homeland Security Special Agent in the Counter-Proliferation Investigations Center in the April 30, 2012 email, ABC News reports.

But agents with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services green-lighted American Logistics and Mahdavi to continue overseeing a designated “regional center” for the immigration program.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley said the case was brought to his attention by whistleblowers inside the agency overseeing the immigration program – and that they were frustrated by their inability to de-certify ALI, ABC News reports.

"The whistleblowers have come forward and said there's reason to be concerned whether our national security is being comprised," Grassley told ABC News.

A lawyer for American Logistics told ABC News neither the company nor its owner have engaged in any illegal activity.

ABC News reports the EB-5 program is due to come before Grassley’s committee for re-authorization this year.

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Federal agents are investigating a Los Angeles shipping company and its Iranian-born owner who were part of a little-known immigration program that allowed the firm to recruit rich foreign investors to get visas and, potentially, green cards, ABC News reports.
federal, probe, iran, immigration, program, shipping, company, visas, green, cards
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Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 07:41 PM
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