Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is calling on Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson to hold Deputy DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas accountable for his actions while director of USCIS — granting EB-5 visa benefits to Democratically connected foreign investors.
Earlier this week the DHS Inspector General released a report investigating allegations by numerous whistle-blowers. The IG found Mayorkas used his power while he was head of USCIS to get approval for EB-5 visas for parties with connections to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Anthony Rodham, brother of Hillary Clinton.
“The juxtaposition of Mr. Mayorkas’ communication with external stakeholders on specific matters outside the normal procedures, coupled with favorable action that deviated from the regulatory scheme designed to ensure fairness and evenhandedness in adjudicating benefits, created an appearance of favoritism and special access,” the IG’s report reads.
Despite the scathing report, Johnson on Tuesday said he has “full confidence” in Mayorkas, but said there “are lessons to be learned from the Inspector General’s report.”
“I have discussed this with Deputy Secretary Mayorkas and I am confident he understands this,” Johnson said in a statement.
According to Grassley, however, Mayorkas needs more than a talking to.
“The U.S. immigration system should be governed by equal application of the law—not by who has the best political connections,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Johnson Thursday. “While I appreciate that you and Mr. Mayorkas have learned from the Inspector General’s report, the standards of ethical conduct should have been followed on day one by the Director.”
Grassley stressed in his letter to Johnson that the Secretary has a duty to hold Mayorkas accountable for his actions.
“The Inspector General’s report paints a clear picture of how Mr. Mayorkas, when Director of the agency, used poor judgment and provided preferential treatment to certain petitioners and regional center applicants in the EB-5 immigrant investor program,” Grassley wrote. “You have an obligation to ensure there is accountability.”
The Iowa lawmaker — who himself had been pressing about the EB-5 matter and requested that Mayorkas’ confirmation to be the Deputy Secretary at DHS be postponed until the matter was resolved — noted that both Johnson and the Democratic majority at the time pushed Mayorkas through despite the allegations of political favoritism.
“The whistle-blowers sacrificed their livelihood, and remain constantly in fear of retaliation because Mr. Mayorkas remains in the Department leadership,” Grassley wrote. “The administration, including you, pressed Congress to move Mr. Mayorkas’ nomination through despite the ongoing review by the Inspector General. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to take action to hold him accountable.”