Senate committee to question DHS nominee facing investigation

A Senate committee on Thursday plans to consider the nomination of a senior homeland security official who is under investigation for allegedly helping a politically connected firm secure U.S. visas for foreign workers.

Several Republicans, including the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, had pressed Wednesday to delay the hearing over U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, whom President Obama nominated last month to become deputy homeland security secretary.

The pressure from GOP lawmakers came to light in a Washington Post article on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said the hearing would take place as planned, according to the article.

(Associated Press) - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas.
(Associated Press) – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas.

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is investigating whether Mayorkas improperly helped foreign investors obtain U.S. visas through the EB-5 program, which provides green cards to foreign nationals in exchange for investments in projects that create American jobs.

Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sought Mayorkas’s assistance on behalf of GreenTech Automotive, according to Wednesday’s article from the Post.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who is not a member of the committee, sent a letter to Carper and Coburn on Wednesday saying whistleblowers had informed him that other federal agencies have raised national-security concerns about the EB-5 program, which Mayorkas oversees.

Grassley has released 40 pages of documents and national security questions about Mayorkas and the EB-5 program, according to the Post article.

The White House has stood behind its nominee despite the Republican concerns. Presidential counsel Kathryn Ruemmer wrote to Carper that the FBI had conducted a background check on Mayorkas and that the White House had also vetted him.

“We have no concerns about his suitability for this important position,” Ruemmler said in her letter, according to the Post article.

GreenTech Automotive was co-founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McCauliffe (D), whose Republican opponent, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, has attacked him for the company’s ties to the investigation.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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