The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General said Thursday the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acted in a "highly unusual" manner in helping people tied to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the brother of Hillary Clinton, and others secure visas for foreigners.
Alejandro Mayorkas, now the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, is accused of favoritism
by either putting EB-5 visa applications to the front of the line or pushing for them to be approved after they were initially denied.
On Thursday, Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth appeared in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security to report his findings in the matter.
Regarding the case involving Reid, which involved Reid's son, Rory, and the law firm he works at, Roth said the alleged intervention made by Mayorkas helped Chinese investors in the SLS Hotel and Casino get their visa applications looked at and approved.
"We found in that case that there was several highly unusual things that occurred as a result of the intervention," Roth said, according to The Daily Caller.
The IG discovered that Harry Reid called Mayorkas and asked him to intervene when the investors' applications were denied. Under the EB-5 program, foreigners and their families receive a green card if they invest a minimum of $500,000 in U.S. companies.
"We found that unusual because that had rarely been done," Roth said of the senator's involvement, which required Mayorkas to give him weekly updates during the approval process.
Roth noted that staff members at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) objected to Mayorkas ordering the visa applications being sped up, saying it looked like favoritism.
As for Hillary Clinton, her brother, Tony Rodham was the CEO of Gulf Coast Funds Management, while Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was chairman of the board.
Rodham and McAuliffe tried to get EB-5 visas approved for Chinese investors in GreenTech Automotive, their car company. When the visas were initially denied, Mayorkas stepped in.
Mayorkas, Roth said, began "asking to see the draft opinion, by commenting on the draft opinion, and having influence on how that draft opinion ultimately was decided.
"In our opinion that created an appearance of direct access."
Rodham has not commented
on the allegations, while representatives for McAuliffe said the governor did nothing other than to ask the "DHS to fulfill its obligation to adjudicate the applications that were before them in a timely fashion."
Mayorkas is also suspected of putting his hands in another EB-5 application process, this one tied to former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who was involved in a project with L.A. Films and Sony Pictures. Those companies were awaiting the results of an EB-5 visa application when Rendell, who chaired the Democratic National Committee from 1999-2001, contacted Mayorkas.
After the pair spoke, Roth said the application went from almost being denied to being reviewed once more.
"Almost immediately after that — within an hour of that phone call — Mr. Mayorkas directed his staff to reverse the denials that had been issued and stop issuing denials," Roth told committee members.
"We are unable to understand what other intervening events would have occurred between the time he knew of, and at least tacitly approved of, the denials in that case, other than the phone call with Mr. Rendell."
Roth added that Mayorkas' involvement in the matter was in direct violation of the department's rules — rules he directed his staff not to break.
"One memo said you should not meet with certain stakeholders at the exclusion of others and also that the appearance of that kind of thing is highly damaging to USCIS," Roth said.
"In our judgment, we believe that these contacts between Mr. Rendell and Mr. Mayorkas violated that."
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