Even before entering office, US president-elect Joe Biden is getting one of its first “Biden Administration” scandals.
Biden’s nomination for US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Alejandro Mayorkas raises some eyebrows.
With appointing a Cuban-American at the post, Biden hopes to send a conciliatory message to Latinos, and Latino immigrants, who have endured four years of a Trump-controlled DHS. Mayorkas will, after all, be responsible for border security, immigration and customs.
US Senator Tom Cotton accused Mayorkas of selling green cards to Chinese nationals on behalf of wealthy Democratic donors.
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. pic.twitter.com/8XsPdvn30G
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) November 25, 2020
Cotton condemned Mayorkas’ appointment in an interview on Fox News, saying he is “disqualified” from serving because of a 2015 controversy in which Mayorkas, then serving as deputy DHS secretary, helped Democrats get visas for their favored foreign companies.
“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,” Cotton said in a tweet sharing video from his interview. “He is disqualified from leading the Department of Homeland Security.”
Mayorkas would be the first ever Latino and immigrant to serve as DHS secretary, was the deputy secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration from 2013 to 2016. Prior to that, he was the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The story Senator Cotton refers to took place back in 2015. Back then, the DHS inspector general testified to Congress that Mayorkas intervened on three separate decisions on whether to grant visas for certain foreign investors on behalf of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), and Anthony Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s brother, respectively.
The inspector general’s report said Mayorkas created the appearance of “favoritism and special access,” but then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson did not pursue disciplinary action against Mayorkas.
Of course, Mayorkas isn’t the only one being scrutinized, according to Cotton, the incoming Biden administration appears to be a “return of the Obama administration foreign policy” that “had disastrous consequences for our nation.”
On December 1st, Joe Biden dismissed these claims, saying that this was not a “third Obama term.”
This is not a third Obama term because we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration.”
“President Trump has changed the landscape,” he added before criticizing President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. “It’s become ‘America First,’ which meant America alone.”
“We find ourselves in a position where our alliances are being frayed,” he also said. “It’s a totally different — that’s why I found people who joined the administration and key points that represent the spectrum of the American people as well as the spectrum of the Democratic Party.”
Following the release of the Inspector General report, Mayorkas issued a statement saying that he ‘disagreed’ with the report’s findings. Mayorkas claimed that he had ‘improved the program through hands-on administration.’
In his statement, Mayorkas said: “While I disagree with the Inspector General’s report, I will certainly learn from it and from this process. I appreciate and embrace Secretary Johnson’s decision to create a new protocol to ensure the EB5 program is free from the reality or perception of improper outside influence.”
“As the leader of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, I had the responsibility to ensure that cases, including the three that are the focus of the report, were decided as the law required and that agency errors were corrected. I fulfilled that responsibility and I also took steps to ensure that my involvement was understood by those around me,” Mayorkas added.
While he was Director of USCIS, Mayorkas described the EB5 visa program as ‘badly broken’ when he arrived. He claimed that decision-making was ‘erroneous’ and that there was ‘insufficient security’.
He said: “I could not and did not turn my back on my responsibility to address those grave problems. I made improving the program a priority and I did so in a hands-on manner, through cases, policies, and sweeping personnel and organizational changes.”
Joe Biden appears to have chosen some interesting personalities in addition to new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. More accusations and claims of incompetence of his chosen cabinet members are quite likely to begin popping up from various Republican senators and congressmen.
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