Alejandro “Al” Mayorkas is a left-wing Democrat with a history of doing favors for wealthy and politically connected people, including working to help suspected Chinese spies enter the country and convicted drug dealers get out of prison. Last time he was in power, he administered President Barack Obama’s most anti-congressional use of executive power to accomplish amnesty. He also earned zero votes from the Republican minority when applying for that job.
Some might suggest this makes Mayorkas just about the worst possible nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but not Joe Biden, who plans to put him in the post in 2021.
So why would Biden do it? The left wing of the party was promised a partnership in a Biden presidency, with Sen. Bernie Sanders claiming Biden personally told him he will “be the most progressive president since FDR.” So far, they’ve been disappointed, with nominees including a Clinton-mold liberal interventionist to the Department of State, and Janet Yellin (over, say, Elizabeth Warren) to Department of the Treasury.
And if Democrats succeed in Georgia to tie the Senate, a Vice President Kamala Harris can push Mayorkas across the finish line and earn the left a man on the inside. If they lose, the left gets a human sacrifice in their honor. Either way, the left gets a try, although it’s unlikely enough to satiate The Squad.
So who is Mayorkas, and why does the left seem to like him so much? In his role at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), he swiftly implemented Obama’s extra-congressional amnesty order. His work with legal and illegal immigration advocates earned their praise, and at least two awards from outside immigrant groups. In his eventual role as deputy secretary of Homeland Security, he led the president’s Cuba delegation. Combine this resume with his Cuban-American heritage and he stands in stark contrast with President Donald Trump’s DHS.
Now, why won’t he gain any Republican support? In addition to his politics, he appears about as corrupt as modern D.C. gets.
A 99-page report prepared for the U.S. Senate by the DHS inspector general (IG) details the allegations against Mayorkas during his tenure at the head of the USCIS. While he denies the allegations and prefers to talk about the orphans he’s helped in his letter to the IG, the three cases detailed involve trying to give citizenship to politically connected, wealthy foreigners, at the behest of powerful Democrats.
“I was praised for my leadership when I engaged with the poor and the needy,” he complained in a letter to the IG, maintaining that his influential Democrat buddies with direct access to him don’t deserve any less.
The meddling was allegedly on behalf of figures like Hillary Clinton’s now-deceased brother, Anthony Rodham, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, future Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, then-former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and the then-mayor of Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, Mayorkas says he can’t remember the substance of any of the private conversations he had with these players. Equally unsurprising: Every one of these outside players declined to speak with the IG.
The program in question, the EB-5 program, essentially trades U.S. citizenship for “job creation,” doling out the coveted passport to foreigners who can pull together $500,000 and demonstrate their money will create jobs in a specific area of the country. More than 80 percent of applicants come from China, The Daily Caller News Foundation reports, including those working with a casino represented by Reid’s son, Rory, and including the Chinese investors working with McAuliffe and Rodham.
The Chinese government doesn’t let its subjects go abroad without a promise to keep their party and loyalties in line, and Republicans have accused the Chinese Communist Party of specifically using the pay-to-play citizenship model to infiltrate the United States for low cost. Indeed, one of Rodham’s clients was a vice president of Huwaei, a company globally targeted for extensive connections to Chinese spying operations.
The three incidents of Mayorkas’s meddling were plenty sufficient to shock the IG, as were the number of people willing to report on his behavior.
“That so many individuals were willing to step forward and tell us what happened is evidence of deep resentment” stretching from the Washington office all the way to California, the IG report reads. These whistle-blowers included “current and retired career and non-career members of the Senior Executive Service, attorneys, all levels of supervisors, immigration officers, and those involved in fraud detection and national security.”
Mayorkas says he was just a good public servant trying to fix a broken system without regard to “the identity of the petitioners.” The agency, he said in justification for his abrasive attitude, “was failing in… administration of the EB-5 program, including failing to enforce the law, adhere to its own policies, promote sound policy, understand business facts and realities, correctly apply economic principles, and honor its own representations.”
Also, McAuliffe is a belligerent ass — and on that point Mayorkas is hysterically and believably adamant.
Mayorkas has a point about the bureaucratic difficulties in Washington, but according to a great number of interviews, his motives can’t be taken seriously. “Employees were afraid to speak up in meetings,” the report reads, “because if they had a different view, Mr. Mayorkas would ‘cut them up, take them apart, or put them in their place.’”
“Another high-ranking official,” it continues, “described going to a meeting with Mr. Mayorkas as feeling like ‘going into a lion’s den to justify our existence as a Christian… That scenario always comes to a predictable end.’”
“I fear,” one official emailed when the Reid deal began, “we are entering a whole new phase of yuck.”
It’s all in the IG report — a report that helped earn Mayorkas 41 Republican nays, four abstains, and zero yays when Obama nominated him for a promotion to the deputy secretary of Homeland Security — the department Biden now wants him to lead. Democrats were less concerned, voting unanimously for him with only his old friend Leader Reid sitting it out (a customary move when his vote is not needed).
The behavior detailed in the report isn’t a career standout: Favors for the powerful are no strange game to Mayorkas. As his term as President Bill Clinton’s attorney for Central California drew to a close, he used his power to become the most influential person in favor of commuting the sentence of Carlos Vignali, Jr., who was serving 15 years for trafficking massive amounts of cocaine.
“U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas provided critical support for the Vignali commutation that was inappropriate, given his position,” a 2002 House of Representatives report reads. “Mayorkas, the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, was asked by Horacio Vignali to call the White House in support of his son’s clemency petition.”
“His call,” the report continues, “conveyed support for the Vignali commutation … despite his knowledge that the prosecutors responsible for the Vignali case opposed clemency.”
So why would he make the call? In short, Vignali Sr. was a major Democratic backer, who made donations to powerful politicians in Los Angeles.
Once again a Hillary Clinton brother — this time Hugh Rodham — joined in on the fun, earning $204,200 for “working part-time for two months gathering materials in support of Vignali’s case and making telephone calls to White House staff.” When his sister and brother in law pressured him to return the money, the congressional report reads, he returned just $50,000.
These are the circles Mayorkas runs in, and has for decades. Even the Hunter Biden-China trouble doesn’t seem enough to dissuade Joe Biden from wanting him to defend the homeland.
He was “smart, charismatic, and persuasive,” his old employees said. “Full of emotion, impulsive, volatile, and tenacious.” In other words, he does well in Washington — and so do his friends. That is, if Democrats win in Georgia.
Christopher Bedford is a senior editor at The Federalist, the vice chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, a board member at the National Journalism Center, and the author of The Art of the Donald. Follow him on Twitter.