Mayorkas, who has been nominated to be second-in-command at DHS, is under investigation by the agency’s inspector general for allegedly providing special treatment for GreenTech. The investigation is preliminary and has not produced any findings of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Senate Republicans have said they will not consider Mayorkas’s nomination until it is completed.
The new documents also show that some career DHS employees believe that Mayorkas broke protocol by altering a draft decision about GreenTech and how it handled stock returns to investors.
Whistleblowers have alleged to Senate investigators that Mayorkas became overly involved in GreenTech’s case.
“It appears that you inserted yourself into the process in an unusual way by reviewing and allegedly rewriting a draft [appeals office] opinion to benefit Gulf Coast and GreenTech,” Grassley said to Mayorkas this week in a letter that included an appendix of nearly 100 pages of internal documents and accounts of interviews with DHS employees. “At a minimum, you clearly created the impression among senior career staff that you were giving special treatment to these applicants.”
Mayorkas has emphatically rejected suggestions that he acted improperly or showed favoritism toward McAuliffe or any others with issues before DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division, which he runs.
At the hearing, Mayorkas said: “I do not adjudicate cases. I address legal policy issues that are brought to my attention” by staff, members of Congress and media accounts. “Neither the temperature with which the complaint is made nor the author of the complaint are material to our decision making. The decision making is based on the law and the facts.”
Some of the Grassley documents show that Mayorkas warned his staff in e-mail and memos not to show any favoritism. In his confirmation hearing, Mayorkas said he personally referred GreenTech cases to national security and fraud experts for further review.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Homeland Security panel, Thomas R. Carper (Del.), said this week that he was not convinced by Grassley’s claims and continues to support Mayorkas.
Aside from Mayorkas, the documents show that McAuliffe reached out to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other officials at the department seeking help in speeding up approval of the visas. Rodham, who is president and chief executive of Gulf Coast, also pushed DHS officials to help the company with its visa applications.
Campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin said McAuliffe’s involvement in the visa issue was limited to broad efforts to speed up the process. “There has been widespread frustration inside and outside USCIS about the bureaucracy there, and Terry was among those who expressed frustration on several occasions to multiple individuals,” Schwerin said.
National security concerns
The visa program, which is dominated by Chinese applicants, permits foreign nationals to enter the United States if they agree to invest at least $500,000 to create U.S. jobs. The program, 20 years old, enjoys broad bipartisan support but has recently been dogged by national security concerns.
Some of those concerns center around Huawei Technologies, a privately held electronics conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese government.
The documents obtained by The Washington Post show that an executive with Huawei applied for a visa through Gulf Coast by investing in GreenTech. DHS officials launched an inquiry into the executive that includes finding out where his investment money came from.
McAuliffe had no role in vetting applicants, his spokesman said.
Representatives of Huawei did not respond Thursday to requests for comment. The firm has long denied any impropriety.