In December 2013, President Obama announced his decision to have Leon Rodriguez become the director of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), the agency that oversees the EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program. An article by Watchdog.org’s Kenric Ward states that U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he plans to pepper Rodriguez with the same EB-5 concerns he posed to Former USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Citing a Homeland Security Investigations memo, Grassley said another federal agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, identified key vulnerabilities in EB-5 visas:
1) Export of sensitive technology/economic espionage.
2) Use by foreign government agents/espionage.
3) Use by terrorists.
4) Investment fraud by regional center.
5) Investment fraud by investors.
6) Fraud conspiracies by investors and regional center.
7) Illicit finance/money laundering.
Characterizing Mayorkas’ responses as vague or nonexistent, Grassley cited another ICE memo asserting that EB-5 “may be abused by Iranian operatives to infiltrate the United States.”
“When Homeland Security’s law enforcement database, TECS, has a hit on someone applying for a regional center, Citizenship and Immigration Services sends an email to the law enforcement agency that put the record in,” Grassley said.
“But the problem is that Citizenship and Immigration Services isn’t waiting for law enforcement. … If law enforcement doesn’t get back to (USCIS) soon enough, they just go ahead and approve the person’s application.
“That’s not coordination — it’s a sham. It should be simply unacceptable to any of us who are concerned about the national security of our country.”
Senator Charles Grassley wants answers.
If confirmed, Rodriguez would leave his post as the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, which he has held since September 2011. He was previously Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department. In addition to overseeing the administrative operations of the Civil Rights Division, Rodriguez’s leadership portfolio includes civil rights matters involving discrimination based on national origin and immigration status, legislative affairs and community outreach.
The Senate Judiciary Committee — chaired by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and fervent EB-5 advocate — has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s full bio.
Mayorkas has been nominated to become the No. 2 official in the USCIS’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. For more on the investigation into him, visit here.