Washington: President Barack Obama`s choice to be the No. 2 official at the Homeland Security Department is under investigation for his role in helping a company secure an international investor visa for a Chinese executive.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, who has been nominated to be the department`s No. 2 leader, was named by the DHS Inspector General`s Office as a target in an ongoing investigation about the foreign investor program run by USCIS, The Associated Press has learned.
According to an email sent to lawmakers last evening, the IG`s office initially starting investigating the EB-5 visa programme last year based on a referral from an FBI analyst in the counter intelligence unit in Washington. The email does not specify what criminal violations it is investigating.
The EB-5 programme allows foreign nationals to get a visa if they invest USD 500,000 to USD 1 million in a project or business that creates jobs for US citizens. The amount of the investment required depends on the type of project. Investors who are approved for the programme can become legal permanent residents after two years and would later be eligible to become citizens.
The White House did not have an immediate comment on the investigation. Neither the department nor USCIS immediately responded to inquiries.
Were Mayorkas confirmed as the department`s deputy secretary, he likely would run the department on an interim basis until a permanent replacement has been approved to take over for departing Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The root of the complaint against Mayorkas is an allegation that he helped a financing company run by Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, win approval for an investor visa even after the application was denied and an appeal rejected.
Mayorkas, a former US attorney in California, previously came under fire for his involvement in the commutation by President Bill Clinton of the prison sentence of the son of a Democratic Party donor. Another of Hillary Clinton`s brothers, Hugh Rodham, had been hired by the donor to lobby for the commutation. Mayorkas told lawmakers during his 2009 confirmation hearing that "it was a mistake" to talk to the White House about the request.
According to the Inspector General`s email, the investigation of the investor visa programme also includes allegations that other USCIS Office of General Counsel officials obstructed an audit of the visa programme by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The email did not name any specific official from the general counsel`s office.
In the email detailing the case, the IG`s office said "at this point in our investigation, we do not have any findings of criminal misconduct."