Joe Biden’s DHS Nominee Aided Jailed Drug Smuggler

FILE - In this July 25, 2013, file photo Alejandro Mayorkas, President Obama's nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on his nomination. President-elect Joe Biden is filling out his administration …
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Joe Biden’s choice to run the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lobbied White House officials to free a Los Angeles drug trafficker in 2001.

The nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, was serving as President Bill Clinton’s top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. He brushed off warnings from another federal prosecutor before asking White House officials to persuade President Bill Clinton to commute the 14-year prison sentence given to drug trafficker Carlos Vignali. Clinton did commute the sentence shortly before he left the White House.

If confirmed to the DHS job, Mayorkas would become the top official responsible for ensuring that drug traffickers are unable to get their drugs into the United States. Drug overdoses killed roughly 72,000 Americans in 2019.

Mayorkas’s 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).

A May 14, 2002 report by the House of Representatives declared that “U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas provided critical support for the Vignali commutation that was inappropriate, given his position.” The report continued:

U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas called the White House in support of the Vignali commutation. Mayorkas, the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, was asked by Horacio Vignali to call the White House in support of his son’s clemency petition. Mayorkas then called the White House about the Vignali commutation. While Mayorkas does not recall the details of his conversation, he now concedes that his call conveyed support for the Vignali commutation.

Mayorkas supported the Vignali commutation despite his ignorance of the facts of the case and his knowledge that the prosecutors responsible for the Vignali case opposed clemency. Before he called the White House, Mayorkas had spoken twice with Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney responsible for the Vignali case. Jones told Mayorkas that Vignali was a “major player” in drug trafficking, that he was “bad news” and that Mayorkas should not “go there” when it came to Vignali.

Despite these warnings from a prosecutor who was intimately familiar with the Vignali case, Mayorkas still called the White House in support of the Vignali commutation.

Mayorkas’ support for the Vignali commutation was inappropriate. Mayorkas knew little about the Vignali case. What he did know indicated that Carlos Vignali was an unrepentant, large-scale criminal. These facts alone make his support for the commutation, as a senior federal prosecutor, totally inappropriate.

In January 2006, CBS described the expensive campaign by Vignali’s wealthy father to spring his son after just six years of a 14-year sentence:

After his son was arrested, the elder Vignali, who is active in Latino causes, stepped up his donations to L.A. area politicians, giving more than $160,000. Vignali’s father persuaded at least nine prominent political figures to contact the White House on his son’s behalf.

In one letter, the former speaker of California’s state assembly actually proclaimed Vignali innocent, saying he was “falsely linked” to the drug ring and the victim of “guilt by association.” The lawmaker, Antonio Villaraigosa, who is currently running for mayor of Los Angeles, now says he made a mistake, as does L.A.’s Cardinal, who also wrote to the White House.

Vignali was in a large gang that ran drugs from California to Minneapolis, CBS reported:

Back in Minneapolis, some like drug investigator Tony Adams say the politicians who backed Vignali are hypocrites. And some who were part of Vignali’s drug gang are still serving a 20-year sentence. “Politicians always get in front of this camera and say we’re trying to take drugs off streets, put dope dealers in jail,” Adams says. “Well, you just let one out — a big one.”

The Daily Caller spotlighted Mayorkas’s 20-year-old support for a drug dealer.

Mayorkas “is a gift for Republicans who want to make an issue of Biden’s immigration policies,” Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies told Breitbart News November 23:

He is the exact kind of nominee that people didn’t want to see — someone in favor of corporate interests on immigration, of looking the other way on fraud, of rubber-stamping every [migration] application. This should be an easy softball for them to hit out of the park. This is something that’s going to be helpful to them in the Georgia Senate races — I mean, [Sen. David] Perdue [R-GA] and [Sen. Kelly] Loeffler [R-GA] should be commenting on this. All of the stars align here — cronyism, corruption, swampiness, and the immigration issue.

Mayorkas’s nomination is touted by a wide range of cooperating pro-migration progressives and business groups. For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s group declared November 23:

He comes with the deep respect of the business community, national security and foreign policy experts, immigration reformers, and elected officials and career civil servants from across the ideological spectrum. As the former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, he has deep expertise in bringing together bipartisan stakeholders, including to work to modernize our broken immigration system. He has previously been confirmed three times by the United States Senate, and we urge his swift confirmation to ensure there is a Senate-confirmed leader of DHS at this critical time.

However, Mayorkas’s record is getting more public review because of the importance of DHS in holding back migrant pressure on U.S. borders and wages.

Under Obama, Mayorkas ran the citizenship agency and was promoted to the deputy DHS job as officials gradually dismantled border protections and triggered a wage-cutting mass migration from Central American. That migrant wave was finally stopped in 2020 by President Donald Trump.

For example, a report by the Center for Immigration Studies showed that Mayorkas suppressed routine anti-fraud efforts at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency:

A damning December 2015 GAO report found that [USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate] FDNS asylum fraud prosecutions rarely, if ever, occurred during the Mayorkas years. 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. Another reported that its U.S. attorney had accepted no asylum fraud referrals since 2010.

Besides strong-arming USCIS employees to “get to yes” instead of valid denials or fraud investigations, another reason for this dismal showing during Mayorka’s 2010-2013 USCIS years was that the very FDNS directorate heralded in the Post story was never allowed to refer cases to prosecutors, subpoena witnesses, or even carry guns.

The USCIS report also showed how Mayorkas created several green-card-for-sale scandals:

The [Office of the Inspector General] concluded that in these three cases Mayorkas “exerted improper influence in the normal processing and adjudication” of the visas, “inserted himself in unprecedented ways” in the adjudication process, and “intervened with the career USCIS staff in ways that clearly benefited the stakeholders.”

“In each of these three instances, but for Mr. Mayorkas’s intervention”, the report summary noted, “the matter would have been decided differently.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.