Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will vote against confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, citing allegations that the nominee provided political favors to Democrats when he served in an immigration post in the Obama administration.
“As a high-ranking official in the Obama administration, Mr. Mayorkas did his best to turn U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services into an unethical favor factory for Democratic Party royalty,” McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor.
The Senate is set to vote Tuesday afternoon on Mayorkas’ confirmation. If confirmed, the Cuba-born Mayorkas will be the first immigrant to lead DHS. He served as deputy director of the agency during the Obama administration, as well as head of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).
A 2015 report from the DHS inspector general’s office found that Mayorkas intervened when he was head of USCIS to help politically-connected Democrats gain access to the EB-5 visa program.
The report said that Mayorkas “exerted improper influence” when he helped secure approval to the EB-5 program for a car company owned by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Tony Rodham, the brother of Hillary Clinton.
McAuliffe and Rodham sought approval for their company, GreenTech Automotive, under the EB-5 program, which granted visas to foreign nationals who invested at least $500,000 in American companies.
The IG report also said that Mayorkas met with then-Sen. Harry Reid in 2013 to discuss approval to the visa program for a Nevada-based company represented by Reid’s son.
Career USCIS officials had rejected the initial EB-5 applications for the companies, but they were approved after Mayorkas became involved in the process, the IG report said.
“We are talking about shoving through green cards as political favors, and intervening to overturn denials,” McConnell said in his Senate speech, citing the IG report.
“He does not deserve Senate confirmation to lead Homeland Security. Frankly, his record should foreclose confirmation, even to a lower post,” said McConnell, adding that, “it’s frankly remarkable that someone with this record is even up for a Cabinet appointment.”
Mayorkas has proved to be Biden’s most controversial Cabinet nominee.
A majority of Republicans voted with all Democrats to confirm Avril Haines, Lloyd Austin, Tony Blinken and Pete Buttigieg to various Cabinet positions.
McConnell, who voted to confirm all of those nominees, said that they were “mainstream,” but that Mayorkas is “something else.”
Other Republicans have voiced opposition to Mayorkas.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton published a lengthy thread on Twitter laying out the case against Mayorkas.
“Alejandro Mayorkas is unfit to be Secretary of Homeland Security. He has refused to enforce immigration law and has a history of corruption and scandal,” Cotton wrote.
Alejandro Mayorkas is unfit to be Secretary of Homeland Security. He has refused to enforce immigration law and has a history of corruption and scandal.
No Senator should vote in favor of confirmation.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 2, 2021
Mayorkas has been accused of impropriety in other government positions.
A report published by a House committee in 2002, said that Mayorkas improperly intervened when he worked as a U.S. attorney in Los Angeles to help a convicted drug dealer secure a pardon from the Clinton administration.
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