Republican Iowa Rep. David Young pressed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Thursday morning about a top Obama administration official who caved to political pressure from major Democrats — former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell, Senator Harry Reid, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — to approve immigration applications from well-connected wealthy foreigners.
The Homeland Security’s Inspector General John Roth recently revealed in an OIG report that the current Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas created “an appearance of favoritism and special access” during his tenure as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“I’m troubled by that report. Are you?” Young asked Secretary Johnson at Thursday’s House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing.
“I believe the report has some real lessons learned in it that I have spoken to the deputy secretary about,” the DHS chief responded.
The Iowa congressman continued to press Johnson if any action would be taken regarding his deputy secretary’s efforts to help politically connected investors gain visas.
“Are you going to take any actions with Deputy Secretary Mayorkas? What is seen here is pretty much a deviation from the norm of what the general practices are. Out of 700 regional applications, your deputy secretary got involved in three. Of those three, they are pretty politically connected,” Young said.
Johnson told the House Committee that he had now created a “new protocol” for dealing with the EB-5 immigration program. He insisted homeland security officials would now be more “sensitive” to the outcomes that this situation had created.
Rep. Young scoffed at the use of the word “sensitive” and questioned again about what will happen to Mayorkas. “Whistleblowers who threw up the red flag on this and who would only be interviewed by the IG if their names and identities were kept quiet — that’s how sensitive and explosive that this could become. What are you doing to regain their trust?” Young inquired.
The Homeland Security secretary maintained that his deputy is not going anywhere.
“He’s been a valuable member of the team, definitely value added. It would be a big loss to the men and women of the department if he were not full time, fully engaged in his job,” Johnson told the committee. “I work with him daily. I read the report and I believe he understands the lessons to be learned from it. We need to move on.”
Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, continues to be skeptical of President Obama’s promotion of Mayorkas while he was under investigation.
“Prior to Mayorkas being elevated to Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security I gave a speech about these whistleblowers. I pleaded with Senator Harry Reid not to bring the nomination up before the Inspector General’s report was completed. There was plenty of precedent for that request but still it was brought up and he was approved,” Grassley told WMAL 105.9 FM Thursday morning. “Now we finally get the the report that says there was improper political interference by Mayorkas.”
Mayorkas disputes the claims of the OIG report.