Oversight

DHS official under investigation for visa aid

Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, is being investigated by the DHS Inspector General as part of an a broader inquiry into the USCIS foreign investor program, the Associated Press reported July 23.

According to the report, which was based on leaked internal DHS emails, no specific criminal violations were mentioned. The emails said the DHS IG began its investigation of the EB-5 visa program at USCIS last year. The probe involved visas sought by Gulf Coast Funds Management, a firm led by Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mayorkas may have helped the company get a visa for a Chinese investor, according to the AP report.

Under the EB-5 program, visas are issued to foreign nationals if they invest $500,000 to $1 million in businesses that create jobs for U.S. citizens.

DHS didn’t respond to requests for comment from FCW. The White House has publicly deferred questions on the investigation to DHS.

President Obama’s nominated Mayorkas in June to be deputy secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, he likely would lead the department until a replacement for Secretary Janet Napolitano is in place. She has announced plans to resign to head California’s state university system.

Over the past year and a half DHS has lost more than a dozen senior leaders from its ranks. Among them are former Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, who left DHS in May. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said he will leave his position at the end of July. Alan Bersin, the former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, saw his recess appointment to the agency expire in 2011. He has been temporarily replaced, first by former Border Patrol Commissioner David Aguilar and then by Deputy Commissioner Thomas Winkowski.

Key managers in critical cybersecurity and IT operations have also left. Margie Graves became acting DHS CIO on March 15, when then-CIO Richard Spires went on leave. Spires has since resigned from the agency.

Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity Michael Locatis resigned his post in January.

Bruce McConnell became interim deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity in March after Mark Weatherford left the position for a private sector job after 16 months on the job.

A week after Napolitano announced she was leaving, McConnell said he was set to resign his position Aug. 10.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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