Senate Homeland Security Confirmation Hearing of Mayorkas

On June 27, 2013 President Obama nominated Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, of the District of Columbia, to be Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

On July 25, 2013 the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on his confirmation.

11:03am Sen. Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, begins the confirmation hearing of Alejandro Mayorkas.

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) introduces Alejandro Mayorkas as President Obama's nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Fun facts: Mr. Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba and graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1981. In 1998, Sen. Feinstein recommended Mr. Mayorkas to be the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. Nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate, he became the youngest U.S. Attorney to serve the nation at that time. Sen. Feinstein praises Mr. Mayorkas for implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) praises Mr. Mayorkas for his focus on adoption issues and his ability to serve people directly, and understand the hearts of people. She feels that the President could not have found a better person, with more integrity, to serve the people of the country. Fun fact: Mr. Mayorkas' brothers are in the audience to support him (although his wife and children are not because they are on vacation without him). There is some debate as to whether he or his brothers are cuter.

Sen. Carper: There are 15 vacancies in leadership positions in DHS, I call this Executive Swiss cheese. In six weeks we face the prospect of a DHS lead by an acting Secretary and an acting Deputy Secretary. The Senate twice before has found Mr. Mayorkas qualified to serve in leadership positions. There have been some questions that have been raised about Mr. Mayorkas' purported role in facilitating investor visas, but the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found no wrong doing by Mr. Mayorkas. Republican colleagues sent me a letter asking me to hold off on the hearing until after the OIG finishes their investigation, I respectfully disagree. OIG has told me they were months away from completing this investigation, and I do not think it is responsible to leave the Agency without a confirmed leader.

Mr. Mayorkas begins his opening statement. My parents brought my sister and me to this country as political refugees from Cuba and instilled in us a deep and profound respect for this country.

Sen. Heitkamp (D-ND): I appreciate that law enforcement likes and respects you and look forward to bringing you to North Dakota and introducing you to the unique challenges we face along the northern border. Can you please talk about your role in the Gulf Coast matter that is being investigated by the OIG.
Mr. Mayorkas: I do not adjudicate these issues, but I consulted with my staff on this particular issue. We have structures set in place to resolve these issues, I do not resolve these issues alone.

*CSPAN alert: Ranking member Sen. Coburn (R-OK) is not present at this hearing, citing an ongoing investigation in the nominee's alleged role in helping a company get a foreign investor visa.

Sen. McCaskill( D-MO): These things that are being said about you, whether they are rumor or innuedos. You have five minutes now to tell us what you want us to know about the accusation that is being made, that you tried to use your position to influence the outcome of a matter because of who was involved.
Mr. Mayorkas: It was Monday evening when I was forwarded the copy of an email that was published to this committee about an apparent OIG investigation, which I am reportedly of a subject. I had no idea of the existence of that investigation and I still don't I understand it. I say firmly I have never in my career exercised undue influence to influence the outcome of a case, I have never based my decision on who brings a case, but rather on the facts of the law. I have taken in my life oaths of office and each every day I have lived by those oaths. My entire life I've tried to live in a way that brings honor to my parents and there has never been an instance which I failed to do so. the allegations, as they have been framed, are unequivocally false. The Gulf Coast matter is one which we received complaints in 2011. Issues in that case arose because EB-5 are complex and a few issues were addressed with my colleagues around the table. Apparently the allegation is that by sitting around the table and resolving some of the complex issues of the EB-5 program I exercised undue influence. It is noteworthy that the complaints about this particular case persisted in 2012 and they continue to this day. The folks that I allegedly helped are still not happy. When a report was published raising a question to the integrity of this enterprise, I referred the case to the fraud detection and national security director.

Mr. Carper: You did not create the EB-5 program, it was created in 1992 under George H.W. Bush. Can you give us a 101.
Mr. Mayorkas: the EB-5 program has at its base job creation, foreign individuals who are willing to invest in the United States and when those investments yield jobs for US workers those foreign investors have the opportunity to earn conditional legal permanent resident status. After two years if they've created ten jobs or are likely to be created in a reasonable period of time, an undefined term, then conditions of lawful permanent status are removed and then they are eligible for citizenship after a period of years.

Sen. Heitkamp: What will you do to improve morale and cohesion within the Agency?
Mr. Mayorkas: Our workforce is deeply committed to the mission of the Department. I would ensure that our workforce has the tools they need to perform their work, that they feel fully engaged and supported and are trained.

Sen. Tester (D-MT): What are the issues (manpower, resources, technology) that lead to the problem with visa overstays?
Mr. Mayorkas: ICE has significantly improved in its battle to combat visa overstays. We've developed enhanced biographical data to know who has overstayed their visa. I'll be sure to reach out to your office.
Sen. Tester: Montana is home to seven Indian reservations, do you have any personal experience working with tribal leaders?
Mr. Mayorkas: I do, when I was a US Attorney I worked with tribal leaders in California in regards to civil and criminal issues.

Mr. Mayorkas closing statement: I love public service.
Hearing concludes.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13072547.