Obama's Choice for No. 2 Official in Homeland Security Under Investigation

Alejandro Mayorkas / AP

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, President Barack Obama's choice to be the No. 2 official at the Department of Homeland Security, is under investigation for his role in helping a company secure an international investor visa for a Chinese executive, the Associated Press reports.

He was named by the DHS Inspector General's Office as a target in an ongoing investigation about the foreign investor program run by USCIS:

According to an email sent to lawmakers Monday evening, the IG's office said that it initially started investigating the EB-5 visa program last year based on a referral from an FBI analyst in the counter intelligence unit in Washington.

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." The email does not specify what criminal violations it is investigating.

White House press secretary Jay Carney referred questions to the DHS inspector general's office, which said the probe is in its preliminary stage and that it doesn't comment on the specifics of investigations.

The EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to get a visa if they invest $500,000 to $1 million in a project or business that creates jobs for U.S. citizens. The amount of the investment required depends on the type of project. Investors who are approved for the program can become legal permanent residents after two years and would later be eligible to become citizens.

If he was confirmed, he likely would run the department on an interim basis until a permanent replacement was approved to replace departing Secretary Janet Napolitano.

This, however, isn't Mayorkas' first controversy:

He 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 program also includes allegations that other USCIS Office of General Counsel officials obstructed an audit of the visa program by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The email did not name any specific official from the general counsel's office.

Published under: Obama Administration