Officials face questioning over contentious visa program

Officials face questioning over contentious visa programOn Tuesday Congressional Republicans strongly objected to the scathing result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security. The investigation revealed that a senior official appeared to favor applicants with political connections while in charge of an obscure federal program that offers US visas to people who invest a minimum of $500,000 in a business that creates American jobs.

Committee chairman Michael McCaul said that he found the Homeland Security Inspector General’s findings “extremely concerning” and is set to hold hearings today to try to find out whether there is a need for further investigation into the matter. “These allegations appear to be at odds with [the immigration agency’s] expressed mission to ‘administer the nation’s immigration system fairly, honestly and correctly’,’” McCaul noted.

The investigation by the Inspector General focused on Alejandro Mayorkas’s leadership. Mayorkas was the EB-5 immigration program director, which is a little-known method of acquiring a green card that has been steadily growing in popularity over the course of the last few years. The US visa program requires the investment of at least $500,000, and in some cases up to $1m, in an eligible American project that will result in the creation of more jobs to gain legal entry into the United States.

President Obama promoted Mayorkas to the position of deputy secretary on the department late in 2013, despite objections from a number of Republicans. Mayorkas denies any wrongdoing.