The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) produced a scathing report on former Vice President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security if he is inaugurated as president, including reports that Alejandro Mayorkas ignored asylum fraud while serving as director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services under Barack Obama.
“A damning December 2015 GAO report found that FDNS asylum fraud prosecutions rarely, if ever, occurred during the Mayorkas years,” the CIS analysis said. “It found that half of the eight USCIS field divisions had referred either one fraud case to U.S. attorney’s offices from 2010 to 2014 or none at all.”
“One office reported that not a single referral had been accepted in the prior two years,” CIS reported. “Another reported that its U.S. attorney had accepted no asylum fraud referrals since 2010.”
If Biden is sworn in, Mayorkas’ nomination will be reviewed by the Senate’s homeland defense committee, likely chaired by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). Portman is up for reelection in 2022, and voted against Mayorkas in 2013. The other GOP members include Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Sen Mike Enzi, R-WY), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
The CIS report provided more details about Mayorkas’ record on asylum enforcement:
In October 2010, about a year after Mayorkas’s appointment to head USCIS, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) penned a complaint to then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Its contents, though a decade old now, raise questions about Mayorkas’s fealty to immigration and asylum law enforcement.
The Grassley letter, citing anonymous employee allegations, accused the top USCIS official of laying heavy-handed pressure on career employees to squeeze out higher volumes of immigration application approvals for the agency’s “customers”, while undermining fraud and ineligibility detection efforts.
After receiving an “inadequate response” from Mayorkas, Grassley’s office interviewed seven employees, examined hundreds of pages of supporting documents, and presented the results in the letter to Secretary Napolitano.
“Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that Director Mayorkas is fostering an environment that pressures employees to approve as many applications as possible and condones retaliation against those who dissent,” Grassley wrote.
Among the inquiry’s chief findings:
- Mayorkas had become “visibly agitated” during a visit to USCIS’s California offices when told employees there wanted to root out fraud. “Why would you be focusing on that instead of approvals?” he reputedly demanded. A witness said “his message was offensive to a lot of officers who are trained to detect fraud.”
- At a management conference, Mayorkas directed top officials to find ways always to “get to yes” regarding “customer” immigrants who filed visa applications. He told his subordinates to “look at petitions from the perspective of the customer” and that the goal was “zero complaints”, implying that approvals were the means to that end.
- At a conference in Landsdowne, Va., Mayorkas said there were some “managers with black spots on their hearts” who can’t see their way to grant benefits and that he was “dealing” with them and also subordinates “too close” to them, with immediate involuntary re-assignments.
- The California USCIS office was told to abandon an important anti-fraud measure that checked for high-risk applicants on a government database, and fraud specialists had to stop investigating such applications.
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