AILA: An Agent of Change Paying the Price?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC — Leslie Holman, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) commented on the release of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General report detailing “Employee Complaints about Management of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) EB-5 Program” with the following statement:

“The DHS Inspector General’s report details complaints from some 15 agency employees which may only reflect pushback that can occur when an appointee attempts to be a ‘hands-on’ leader for change. While giving voice to resentments and frustrations by some of those under the direction of then-USCIS Director Mayorkas, the report cites no laws or even policies that were violated.

“But when have you ever heard of a large organization in which everyone wholeheartedly embraced changes to the way things have ‘always been done’? Mr. Mayorkas was responsible for leading an agency with some 15,000 employees in 200 offices across the world. The EB-5 program was just one of dozens of programs led by Mayorkas, with many of them troubled by some of the problems that have plagued EB-5. All too often its decisions failed to meet the ‘fundamental threshold for rational decisionmaking,’ in the words of one federal judge overruling a decision denying a visa petition.

“The EB-5 visa program was intended to bring in investors to benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs for Americans, but like pretty much every facet of our immigration system, it has some serious issues. Director Mayorkas prioritized addressing those problems and ruffled some feathers by trying to change the status quo.

“One of the accusations is that Director Mayorkas got too involved in cases that were associated with powerful people, such as members of Congress. During his tenure at USCIS, Mr. Mayorkas was contacted by a number of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, asking for his personal attention to cases of interest to them and their constituents. Those same Congressional leaders would be up in arms if they were ignored.

“Instead of calling hearings over ruffled feathers, they should congratulate a leader for trying to be an agent for change within the federal bureaucracy, something that virtually every politician says he or she wants to happen. Pillorying him for trying to do so is a bad object lesson for future leaders.”


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 15032550.