USCIS EB-5 scandal: Bombshell in footnotes says Mayorkas’ data missing

Commentary by Kay B. Day

Mayorkas USCIS

Former USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas is engulfed in a scandal involving favoritism in the EB-5 visa program. (US government photo)

Anyone who researches and tracks the issue politicians improperly call “immigration” comes to a conclusion quickly. The federal bureaucracy is mired in corruption, incompetence, and political cronyism. Most of the failure is top down. I suspect numerous federal employees who are honest are appalled at what they witness.

Now a new scandal has broken involving the EB-5 program and the stewardship of former US Citizenship and Immigration Services director Alejandro Mayorkas who served President Barack Obama’s administration in that capacity until December, 2013. There’s also a familiar refrain. Emails and other data have gone missing. 

The EB-5 program is described by the Dept. of Homeland Security Inspector General:

“[T]he Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) program, which gives residency preference to aliens who agree to invest in the U.S. economy to create jobs for U.S. citizens.”

According to the IG report, Mayorkas took an unusual personal interest in the program, judging the accounts of federal employees who came forward en masse with allegations about Mayorkas:

“[Mayorkas] was exerting improper influence in the normal processing and adjudication of applications and petitions in a program administered by USCIS. Specifically, we were told that Mr. Mayorkas was in contact, outside the normal adjudication process, with specific applicants and other stakeholders…We were also told he was exerting influence to give these individuals preference and access not available to others.”

The IG said usually only one or two whistleblowers come forward, but this scandal comprised far more. “That so many individuals were willing to step forward and tell us what happened is evidence of deep resentment about Mr. Mayorkas’ actions…”

The allegations, said the IG, “were unequivocal.” Employees claimed Mayorkas “gave special access and treatment to certain individuals and parties.”

Players in the scandal are well-connected Democrats. Mayorkas has a long history with party strongmen, including his intervention on behalf of a drug dealer connected to Hillary Clinton’s brother. Politico reported in 2008:

“Alejandro Mayorkas, a former U.S. attorney in California, drew controversy in 2001 for calling the White House on behalf of Carlos Vignali, a convicted drug dealer who was seeking a presidential commutation. Mayorkas and a host of other California elected officials responded to pleas from Vignali’s father, Horacio, a wealthy Los Angeles businessman whom federal agents had suspected of drug trafficking. Horacio Vignali also paid $200,000 in fees to Hugh Rodham, a brother of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a successful effort an [sic] have his son’s prison sentence commuted by the outgoing president.”

The current governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe who is a long time Clinton associate, figures in the present-day scandal:

“Gulf Coast Funds Management Regional Center: Mr. Mayorkas intervened in an administrative appeal related to the denial of a regional center’s application to receive EB-5 funding to manufacture electric cars through investments in a company in which Terry McAuliffe was the board chairman. This intervention was unprecedented and, because of the political prominence of the individuals involved, as well as USCIS’ traditional deference to its administrative appeals process, staff perceived it as politically motivated.”

Another Democrat mover and shaker, Tom Rosenfeld, is included in the new report. Rosenfeld is a major actor in the EB-5 program. The IG report pointed out “improper personal access that Mr. Mayorkas gave to Tom Rosenfeld and former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell.”

Rosenfeld had problems before. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, at a meeting in August, 2011, included in minutes:

“Resolved, the Board approved the Consent Agreement between the Office of Enforcement Counsel and Tommy Rosenfeld for making political contributions. Mr. Rosenfeld will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $15,000.” 

The Federal Election Commission contains records indicating Rosenfeld (CanAm Enterprises) gave at least $25,000 to various Democrat-affiliated campaigns and committees.

The full IG report is online, but some footnotes in the report indicate an ongoing pattern by members of the Obama Administration when it comes to record-keeping. Bear in mind that emails, phone records, and other office records are technically the property of the United States Government and therefore, belong to the American people.

A couple of footnotes most media apparently missed in the IG report will sound familiar to those keeping up with Hillary Clinton’s missing records, and records gone missing in the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal as well as the weaponization of IRS to attack conservative groups:

“2 We were unable to obtain records from Mr. Mayorkas’ office telephone, so we do not have records of calls he may have made from or received in his office because the telephone system at USCIS (private branch exchange) switches calls between users on local lines and allows all users to share a certain number of external phone lines.

3 Although we are confident in the fidelity of the data we did acquire, we often found that the ‘dataset’ (i.e., email and like files associated with a user name) was incomplete for the time period requested or simply did not exist. We also identified similar problems with Mr. Mayorkas’ calendar. For example, employees provided copies of emails from Mr. Mayorkas that we did not find when we searched Mr. Mayorkas’ email dataset…”

The IG report confirmed the whistleblowers’ claims, stating, “We found that employees’ belief that Mr. Mayorkas favored certain politically powerful EB-5 stakeholders was reasonable.”

Does anyone in the government vet the funds EB-5 investors put forth? Does organized crime have an impact? Those are questions media aren’t likely to ask.

At the end of 2013, as allegations swirled within USCIS, Obama moved Mayorkas [shown in featured photo] into another high profile position—US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Thus far, no federal employee or appointee involved in any scandal involving the Obama administration has paid a price equivalent to what was taken from US citizens in terms of resources or accountability.

Although media have reported widely on this scandal, few if any have mentioned those two footnotes although they are key to the current policy of Democrats in power. Data goes missing when it becomes inconvenient to the originator.

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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