The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are at odds with one another over the Democratic nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas. He is to be the second in command with the title of Deputy Secretary of the Homeland Security.
Democratic senators are brushing off the allegations that said nominee has urged government employees to decide more quickly in approving the applications from foreign investors in a Las Vegas casino and disregarding the concerns that surround the $11.5 million investment.
Meanwhile, the Republican party are concerned of the allegations and wanted to see the results of a thorough investigation surrounding the source of such an investment before voting in Mayorkas.
Reports of emails from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services workers show that agency director Alejandro Mayorkas, questioned lower-level decisions to withhold expedited processing for at least 23 applications filed by Chinese and Thai citizens. The very ones that are attempting to invest the questionable $11.5 million into the casino project under the federal EB-5 investor visa program.
In a Jan. 25 email, Mayorkas told agency officials that the Commerce Department had already concluded “the expedite criteria have been met” regarding the casino project.
Mayorkas denies ever influencing any USCIS decisions and he stated, “I have never, ever in my career exercised undue influence to influence the outcome of a case,” during a confirmation hearing last month. “I have never based my decisions on who brings a case but rather on the facts and the law.”
The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reached out to Mayorkas to help speed along visas for foreign investors of a politically connected casino hotel in Las Vegas.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) on the Senate panel, stated that the vote was “virtually without precedent.” Coburn tried to persuade lawmakers to wait until “all the facts” are available.
Coburn is not comfortable with voting hastily, he said, “If we confirm Mr. Mayorkas under a cloud, we haven’t helped him, we haven’t helped the Department of Homeland Security.”
“I’m deeply disappointed,” Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) said after the vote.
The Democratic Party defend their nominee, implying that his name is simply being dragged through the mud, and brushing off the allegations as nonsense.
Senator Mary Landrieu said, “It is discouraging to see someone with such an extraordinary record of service being held up for no apparent reason.”
Furthermore, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted 9-0 advancing his nomination to the full Senate, yet, every single Republican voted “present.”
The nominee currently heads U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A role, that Mayorkas has come under criticism for his handling of the EB-5 program, allowing foreign investors that have at least a half-million dollars in a U.S. project to seek a special visa.
The Times said the decision to overturn a prior, normally non-appealable visa decision ultimately benefited several companies whose executives have been heavy Democratic donors.
Coburn, citing the ongoing IG investigation into the program itself, noted the accusations are merely “allegations,” but said they could raise questions about Mayorkas’ “fitness for public service.”