Alejandro Mayorkas, the former director of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services, favored projects championed by Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Rodham, according to an explosive new report from the Department of Homeland Security inspector’s general (IG).
The IG concluded its investigation into whether Mayorkas, now the deputy secretary at DHS, “exerted improper influence” in the adjudication of the Employee-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5), which allows aliens to invest $500,000 in U.S. companies in order to gain residency for themselves and their families.
And indeed, the IG determined that Mayorkas did improperly exert his influence, and on behalf of companies with ties to Reid, McAuliffe, and Rodham.
“Mayorkas communicated with stakeholders on substantive issues, outside of the normal adjudicatory process, and intervened with the career USCIS staff in ways that benefited the stakeholders,” the report reads, noting that in each of those cases the outcome would have been different if not for Mayorkas’ intervention.
The report also noted that more than 15 USCIS employees at all levels conveyed “the same factual scenario: certain applicants and stakeholders received preferential access to DHS leadership and preferential treatment in either the handling of their application or petition or regarding the merits of the application or petition.”
The IG, which began its investigations in Sept. 2012, also found that the number and variety of witnesses was “highly unusual” and characterized Mayorkas’ level of intervention as “unprecedented.”
In one case, Mayorkas intervened on behalf of GreenTech Automotive, an electric car company controlled by Gulf Coast Funds Management. McAuliffe was chairman of Gulf Coast’s board while Tony Rodham was CEO.
In an unrelated case, Rodham’s position with Gulf Coast earned him a spot on the board of a gold mining company with interests in Haiti. Rodham met the owner of that company, VCS Mining, at an event for the Clinton Global Initiative, his sister’s charity.
The IG report shows that Mayorkas became involved in the Gulf Coast’s application in July 2010. He opposed USCIS employees’ decision to deny the company’s EB-5 visa applications, though staffers felt that the GreenTech project fell outside of the scope of the program and that it was “really not so good of a project.”
But McAuliffe pushed for EB-5 and continuously called and met with Mayorkas on the matter. According to the IG report, after Gulf Coast’s application was initially denied, Mayorkas took a deep and special interest in the project, telling staff that he would personally oversee it. During one meeting, he shocked staffers by saying that he would take materials related to the application home so that he could work on the case.
Many USCIS staff believed that Mayorkas’ interest in the project indicated that Gulf Coast was “wired in” to the agency.
In early 2013, Mayorkas backed off of his hands-on involvement with the application. But it was understood within the agency that he still hoped to see its application approved. On Jan. 29, 2013, Rodham sent Mayorkas sent an email regarded processing delays. Mayorkas forwarded the email to staff with a “high importance” designation, according to the inspector general.
Gulf Coast’s fourth amendment for application was approved in Feb. 2014.
Mayorkas has previously denied exerting undue influence on behalf of Gulf Coast. Back in July 2013, after he was tapped by President Obama to take over as DHS deputy secretary, he responded to news that the IG was investigating his relationship with McAuliffe and Gulf Coast saying that it was “unequivocally false” that he had played favorites.