No Action on Mayorkas Nomination Until After August Recess

By David North on July 31, 2013

It is now clear that there will be no action on the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to be deputy secretary of DHS until after the August Senate recess. He is currently director of USCIS.

More specifically, the Senate resumes work on September 6 and current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is scheduled to leave her office on September 7, so it appears that Under Secretary Rand Beers, now acting deputy secretary, will become acting secretary on that date, assuming that Napolitano leaves as scheduled. For more on the succession complications at DHS, see this earlier blog of mine.

Alejandro Mayorkas

The most recent development, as reported in the July 31 Daily Beast, is that Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, has announced that the last business meeting of his committee before the recess will not consider the controversial Mayorkas nomination, thus postponing any full-Senate consideration of the matter until at least September.

The Daily Beast story carries more details on the controversy than most other accounts, including a report on how Mayorkas is said to have made a broader decision regarding an issue in the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program that was helpful to GreenTech, an electric car firm formerly run by Terry McAuliffe, now the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia. McAuliffe, several years ago, had written to Secretary Napolitano about EB-5 and GreenTech.

EB-5 is that part of the immigration law that allows alien investors to secure a set of green cards for all members of their families when investments of $500,000 are made through USCIS-approved entities called regional centers. One such center, Gulf Coast Funds Management, has been using the program to raise funds, primarily from Chinese investors, for GreenTech. Gulf Coast is run by Anthony Rodham, a brother of the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Mayorkas has been a cheerleader in the administration for the program and has tried to make it larger and more investor-friendly, in general. One of the continuing issues in the program is whether specific investments are at risk — like a common stock purchase — or are loans. Something that is clearly a loan is not accepted in the EB-5 program, but there are intricate definitional challenges in some of these financial offerings, including, apparently, one of the GreenTech/Gulf Coast offerings. The Daily Beast reported in this connection:

The issue that quashed GreenTech's application the first time was whether the Chinese executive's [EB-5] investment capital was really at risk throughout the term of the investment as is required by law to secure the visa. Mayorkas said the case fell into a gray area, so his office issued a new policy memorandum clarifying the issue in a way that happened to allow for the visa.

The controversy over the Mayorkas nomination also involves an investigation of the USCIS director by the acting inspector general of DHS, who, in turn, faces an investigation into his own office practices, as described in an earlier blog.