Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has come under fire in a report from the department's inspector general for personally intervening in three EB-5 visa cases involving influential Democrats, including Anthony Rodham, brother of former secretary of State and likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
A blistering 97-page report from Inspector General John Roth states that Mayorkas became personally involved in providing favorable treatment in three cases involving former Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Rodham, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The report states that Myorkas "created an appearance of favoritism and special access" for certain wealthy immigrants with Democratic political support, triggering complaints from a host of whistleblowers, the Washington Times reports.
The EB-5 visa program grants permanent resident status to individuals who invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. business venture and employ a sufficient numbers of people, the Journal reports.
Under President Barack Obama, the program has grown from around 1,000 applicants per year to nearly 11,000 in 2014, and the program approves around 75 percent of applicants, the Washington Times notes.
Last year, Mayorkas was promoted from head of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deputy secretary for Homeland Security, with Republicans, noting that an investigation was under way, objecting, the Times noted.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he found the IG report "highly concerning," and added, "In an unprecedented move, Mr. Mayorkas was confirmed by the Senate on a party-line vote led by Senator Reid, despite being under investigation for his management of USCIS and the EB-5 investor visa program,” ABC News reported.
"This report confirms the concerns surrounding Mr. Mayorkas' suitability for the position were well founded," Chafetz said.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the New York Times
he will hold hearings to see "whether further oversight by my committee is warranted" and added that the report seemed to contradict the agency's “expressed mission to administer the nation’s immigration system fairly, honestly and correctly."
The IG report states that Mayorkas "communicated with stakeholders on substantive issues, outside of the normal adjudicatory process, and intervened with the career staff in ways that benefited the stakeholders," the Journal states.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson defended Mayorkas, stating in a news release,
"Like me, he is often impatient with our sluggish government bureaucracy" and "can at times be very hands-on in resolving issues and problems that are brought to his personal attention," the Journal reported.
Rodham, ABC reported, was involved in the financing of an electric car venture and emailed Mayorkas, seeking to speed up processing of immigrant visas.
In his report, Roth stated, "We were unable to determine Mr. Mayorkas’ motives for his actions," the Washington Post reported.
"Certain applicants and stakeholders received preferential access to DHS (Department of Homeland Security) leadership and preferential treatment in either the handling of their application or petition or regarding the merits of the application or petition," ABC News said the report stated. "Many witnesses provided emails, written contemporaneously with the events, to support their allegations of special access and treatment."
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