While the nation may have been keeping a keen eye on the Capitol today for the Presidential Inauguration, Washington is also abuzz with the process of confirming Joe Biden's cabinet. With many controversial picks, one of the most shocking appointments was Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security.
Given what Pres. Biden and Vice Pres. Kamala Harris repeatedly promised during their campaign and the recent news of their plan to grant amnesty and an eight-year pathway to citizenship more than 11 million illegal aliens, this incoming Secretary will almost certainly face an immigration crisis that will make the surges of 2019 look like child's play.
The question that should be in every American's mind is whether Alejandro Mayorkas will act with integrity and honor in following his oath to protect and uphold the Constitution and only propose, accept, and execute immigration policies that put the interests of American workers first while understanding the detrimental implications of continued uncontrolled mass immigration?
Like many issues today, the facts surrounding Mayorkas's background and integrity differ depending on which source you receive them from. Whether this is a simple mistake or purposeful misguidance, nobody can say for sure. Nevertheless, we here at NumbersUSA wish to provide you with accurate information about Mayorkas's background, his time as an undersecretary at DHS where he drafted former Pres. Barack Obama's DACA executive amnesty, his role in a political corruption scandal which tainted his record at DHS, and what the future may hold for his confirmation.
Who is Alejandro Mayorkas
Alejandro Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba. As an infant, Mayorkas was brought to the United States by his parents, who fled from Cuba to Los Angeles as refugees. Mayorkas received his bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a law degree from Loyola Law School.
For some time, Mayorkas continued to reside in California, eventually reaching the top federal prosecutor's office before moving his career to Washington D.C., where he would ultimately serve as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009-2013 and deputy-secretary of DHS from 2013-2016.
Before moving to Washington, Mayorkas participated in some significant LA cases as the city's top federal prosecutor, ironically focusing his prosecutorial powers on white-collar crimes. Cases included the prosecution of Mexican Cartel members in death penalty proceedings, the prosecution of Litton Industries for international bribe payments, and against "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss on charges of federal conspiracy, tax fraud, and money laundering.
After spending nine years as a prosecutor (1989-1998), Mayorkas became the youngest U.S. Attorney in the country under President Bill Clinton in 1998, again explicitly overseeing the prosecution of more white-collar crimes like financial fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, public corruption, cybercrime, environmental crime, international money laundering, and securities fraud.
Between the Justice Department and DHS, Mayorkas has been confirmed by the Senate three times during his career.
Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services
In 2009 Mayorkas moved to Obama's DHS as the director of USCIS with unanimous consent from the Senate. He made his first real national impact in 2012 as the architect of the disastrous Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order. DACA gave amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens residing in the country through deportation protection and work permits but also an indirect "pathway to citizenship" through the practice of "Advance Parole."
To qualify for the amnesty, illegal aliens had to meet the following conditions:
- Entered the U.S. under the age of 16,
- Be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012,
- Maintained a continuous presence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007,
- Be enrolled in high school or have graduated from high school or hold a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military, and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors occurring on separate dates from separate acts and does not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Despite President Trump's best efforts to dismantle it and expose its illegality and unconstitutionality, the program is still in effect. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis recently ordered the federal government to post a public notice that it would begin accepting new applications under terms in place under Mr. Obama. For the first time since 2017, the federal government accepted 171 new DACA applications, denying 121 applications and rejecting another 369.
Open-border activists view Mayorkas as the best option to revive and expand the DACA program to its heyday under the Obama administration. Currently, the program is still acting as an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of aliens residing in the US illegally, protecting "dreamers" from deportation and giving them work permits.
Approximately 643,560 illegal aliens are currently benefiting from the program, according to March 2020 data from USCIS. Between 2012 and March 2020, 825,998 aliens were approved to participate in the DACA program for at least two years. More than half of the cases, 472,287, were approved in the first two years of the program. In contrast, in 2018 and 2019, only 26,173 new DACA applicants were approved.
Deputy-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
In 2013, Mr. Mayorkas moved from directing the USCIS agency to an under-secretary position at the Department of Homeland Security. His confirmation here was much different than while at USCIS, the Senate confirmed him with a 54-41 vote. In fact, Mayorkas would likely have not been confirmed if Senate Democrats had not triggered "the nuclear option", allowing for nominations to be approved with a simple a majority.
Nevertheless, while at DHS, Mayorkas continued to exert his political power to expand family detention at the border, build chainlink dividers, now derided as 'cages,' and promote sanctuary cities' development.
Chris Newman, general counsel at the National Day Laborer Organization Network, explained Mr. Moyorkas's leniency in the creation and continuation of sanctuary cities. Newman, who calls himself a staunch critic of the Obama administration, says that Mayorkas was "quite good" as he sought to appease awol jurisdictions who decided that cooperation with federal immigration agencies was simply not needed, actively endangering their law-abiding constituents.
Also, as an under-secretary of DHS, Mayorkas held a significant role in the department's response to the first surge of alien children and families between 2014 and 2015, a predicted and preventable outcome to then-President Obama's continual promises of amnesty through executive action. However, the department was still severely unprepared, understaffed, and underfunded when the caravans began to appear at the southern border.
Mayorkas oversaw a federal response that looked very similar to what was seen during President Trump's border surges. Mayorkas, working with then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, increased alien detention beds from 100 to 3,000, built chain-link fences to hold aliens caught illegally crossing the southern border and developed strategies including the use of tear gas and advanced surveillance to prevent large groups of aliens from using their numbers to overwhelm Border Patrol.
EB-5 Visa Scandal at DHS
However, Mayorkas's tenure at DHS under former-President Obama was not controversy-free. In 2015, Mayorkas was the subject of a scathing inspector general report that found he had intervened to help foreign investors in the EB-5 visa program get connected to top members of the Democratic Party.
The EB-5 visa program, overseen by USCIS, allows foreigners who invest gross amounts of money (at least $500,000) in U.S. "business ventures" that create jobs to apply for a green card along with members of their family; nearly 80 percent of applications come from China. The inspector general found that Mayorkas acted "outside the normal adjudicatory process... In ways that benefited the stakeholders."
The IG report highlighted three individual EB-5 cases. In the first, Mr. Mayorkas "pressured staff" to expedite the review of an investment at the then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's request. In the second, Mayorkas performed an "unprecedented" intervention to help a company chaired by former DNC Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Tony Rodham, the late brother of Hillary Clinton. In the third, Mayorkas ordered USCIS to reverse a decision to deny EB-5 funding for Sony after receiving communications from Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.
In the second case, McAuliffe and Rodham were later sued by 32 Chinese investors who claimed they were falsely promised that their investments in their company would help them get green cards in the U.S.
The IG report concludes that the cases would have been "decided differently" if not for Mayorkas's interference and that "Mr. Mayorkas's conduct led many USCIS employees to reasonably believe that specific individuals or groups were given special access or consideration in the EB-5 program," and that the issue was brought to the IG's attention because "an extraordinary number" of USCIS employees had flagged his behavior.
"One high-ranking official," the report states, "described going to a meeting with Mr. Mayorkas as feeling like 'going into a lion's den to justify our existence as a Christian... That scenario always comes to a predictable end." When Harry Reid contacted Mayorkas, one official emailed, "I fear we are entering a whole new phase of yuck."
Appearing before a Republican-led House Homeland Security Committee in 2015 to answer to the blistering report, Mayorkas stated:
The [Department of Homeland Security] Inspector General found that... employees perceived I exercised undue influence in these cases. I bear responsibility for the perception of my employees. That is my responsibility and I acknowledge that.
Mayorkas would then go on to thrash the EB-5 program as a system going through a major breakdown, and that he got involved in an attempt to save the program and did not care if certain cases were decided one way or the other. Even going as far as accusing his employees of not having the "complete context" of the situation before admitting that he had been asked to step in by stakeholders and members of Congress.
Then-Secretary Jeh Johnson said after the release and fallout of the IG report that Mayorkas broke trust with USCIS employees. Still, Johnson rejected calls to discipline him at the time, saying he was too valuable to suspend, reports the Washington Times.
The Federalist recently revealed that this might not have been Mayorkas's first run-in with granting favors for the powerful, exposing what some are considering a pattern. They explain:
As his term as President Bill Clinton's attorney for Central California drew to a close, he used his power to become the most influential person in favor of commuting the sentence of Carlos Vignali, Jr., who was serving 15 years for trafficking massive amounts of cocaine.
"U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas provided critical support for the Vignali commutation that was inappropriate, given his position," a 2002 House of Representatives report reads. "Mayorkas, the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, was asked by Horacio Vignali to call the White House in support of his son's clemency petition."
"His call," the report continues, "conveyed support for the Vignali commutation ... despite his knowledge that the prosecutors responsible for the Vignali case opposed clemency."
So why would he make the call? In short, Vignali Sr. was a major Democratic backer, who made donations to powerful politicians in Los Angeles.
In addition, a report by the Center for Immigration Studies found that Mayorkas systematically ignored asylum fraud while heading USCIS, where often no asylum fraud cases were referred to the U.S. attorney's office for years.
Post-DHS Private Sector Work
After leaving the Department of Homeland Security in 2016, Mayorkas went to the private sector, where he represented many corporations as a partner at WilmerHale, according to his financial disclosures. Some of the corporations include Uber, Cisco, Clorox, Airbnb, and the Wall Street firm Blackstone. Mayorkas even defended several clients that were subjects of federal investigations.
The Daily Caller summarizes two of the cases:
One of Mayorkas's clients was Mission Support Alliance, a subsidiary of defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The company was charged on Feb. 8, 2019, under the False Claims Act, and was accused of paying $1 million in kickbacks in order to secure an environmental cleanup project with the Department of Energy. The case remains open.
Mayorkas also represented NiSource, Inc., an Indiana-based energy provider, against federal charges over its role in a gas explosion in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The corporation entered a plea agreement with the government on Feb. 26 and was ordered to pay the largest settlement ever paid under the Pipeline Safety Act. Mayorkas signed the plea agreement and negotiated an agreement with federal prosecutors in Massachusetts that deferred prosecution for NiSource.
Mayorkas's Confirmation Outlook
According to sources close to the Biden transition team, confirming Mayorkas will be "the top priority for the Biden team," stating that a "messaging push will take place in every forum, in and out of Congress," reports Politico. Mayorkas faced the first hearing with the Senate Homeland Security Committee on January 19th, where Democrats hoped to confirm him by unanimous consent. The big business lobby has even been touting Mayorkas with a massive lobbying effort to have him confirmed, as they see his nomination as a path to expand immigration into the US.
However, Senator Josh Hawley objected to the unanimous consent of Mayorkas on the 19th, delaying the installation of a new DHS secretary. Hawley cited the incoming administration's immigration policies as the reason for his objection. He argued that Mayorkas "has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border given President-elect Biden's promise to roll back major enforcement and security measures."
Besides some Senators' concerns over Mayorkas's policy positions, his checkered past will certainly be brought up during his upcoming confirmation process.
When Mayorkas appeared before the Senate in 2013 for confirmation to the under-secretary position at DHS, he was confirmed by a vote of 54-41. However, some of the moderate Republicans who Democrats have looked towards during the Trump administration, like Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) voted against Mayorkas.
In fact, some of the Senators who came down hardest on Mayorkas in 2015 after the report was released, like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), still hold their positions of minority power.
"The Inspector General's report paints a clear picture of how Mr. Mayorkas, when Director of the agency, used poor judgment and provided preferential treatment to certain petitioners and regional center applicants in the EB-5 immigrant investor program," Grassley wrote on a 2015 letter to then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. "You have an obligation to ensure there is accountability."
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) also made a statement when Mr. Biden tapped Mayrokas to lead the department, saying:
Alejandro Mayorkas was found by Barack Obama's Inspector General to be guilty of selling Green Cards to Chinese nationals on behalf of rich, democratic donors. He is disqualified from leading the Department of Homeland Security.
Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations at NumbersUSA even stated in a recent article for the Washington Times:
"I'm surprised that Biden would select Mayorkas, since his nomination will inevitably raise anew the questions about how he used his position as USCIS director under Obama to do favors for Harry Reid and Terry McAuliffe. I'm equally surprised that Mayorkas would want to face those questions in a Senate confirmation process.
CHRISTOPHER PIERCE is a Content Writer for NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Jul 20th 2021 @ 9:51am EDT