Homeland security deputy and eb-5 ally to leahy quitting post
Alejandro Mayorkas, former head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, speaks at a Department of Homeland Security event.
Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — who has been a key ally to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy on the EB-5 immigrant investor program — announced Thursday that he will be stepping down from his post early in order to work at WilmerHale, an international law firm that has donated thousands to Leahy.
“From the beginning, Ali has been a source of encouragement, strength and optimism,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in a statement. “Routinely, Ali’s positive attitude has helped pick me up and given me the strength to carry on. In the face of the extraordinarily difficult issues we face, Ali has been our happy warrior.”
Mayorkas has worked at the Department of Homeland Security for nearly seven years, a tenure that included four years at the helm of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
During his time at USCIS, Mayorkas was a strong ally to Leahy regarding the EB-5 visa program.
The national EB-5 program allows immigrants to invest $500,000 in projects located in high-unemployment areas. If each investment creates 10 jobs, the investors are eligible for permanent U.S. residency.
In late 2010, Mayorkas allowed the Democratic Vermont senator’s interpretation of the EB-5 job requirements to include out-of-state, indirect jobs.
In 2013, when Mayorkas was nominated to the post of deputy secretary of homeland security, Leahy rebuffed Republicans who pointed to initial findings of an inspector general’s report that alleged Mayorkas had inappropriately meddled in EB-5 projects in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast.
In a statement at the time Leahy said, “This flawed investigation does not merit the delay of Director Mayorkas’ confirmation process.”
Mayorkas will work in a number of areas at WilmerHale, including immigration, trade, cybersecurity and foreign investments, according to a release from the firm.
WilmerHale and its employees represent one of the top 20 contributors to Leahy over the past five years, according to the Center For Responsive Politics. In that time, Leahy has received nearly $20,000 from the firm.
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