WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT NEW LEADERSHIP: ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS AND EB-5 PROGRAM

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Alejandro Mayorkas

One of the Biden administration’s first priorities this year will be tackling immigration reform, a process that begins with Senate confirmation hearing of Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s intended choice for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS, which manages the EB-5 Regional Center program, falls directly under the authority of DHS. As head of DHS, Mayorkas would have direct oversight of US immigration policy, including the EB-5 program. As we know, Biden’s stance on immigration is certainly much different than President Trump’s, and tapping Mayorkas to head DHS is further evidence of that favorable attitude toward immigration. Mayorkas has a track record of overseeing and implementing pro-immigrant policies and has already indicated immigration policy will be one of his top priorities. While we can only speculate on future policy decisions, Mayorkas history serves as another excellent indication that the EB-5 program will be safe under the Biden Administration. 

Mayorkas’ background

If Mayorkas is confirmed by the Senate it would be a historic first for the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba in 1959, and immigrated to the US in 1960 when his family fled Cuba’s communist revolution. If confirmed, he would be the first immigrant as well as the first Latino to head DHS. Mayorkas began his career in government in 1989 after becoming an Assistant US Attorney in the Central district of California, where he successfully prosecuted a number of major white collar crimes. Then in 1998, he was appointed by President Clinton as US attorney for the Central District of California, where he oversaw several high profile cases until he left office in January 2001. 

Mayorkas’ role in the Obama administration

After spending several years in private practice, Mayorkas was chosen by Barack Obama to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in 2009, a position held until 2013. As head of USCIS Mayorkas played a crucial role in the revitalization of the EB-5 program. Prior to Mayorkas time at USCIS, the EB-5 program was extremely underutilized; less than 800 applicants applied in 2007, and Mayorka described the program as being “badly broken” when he took office. However in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash the number of EB-5 applicants began to rise dramatically, quadrupling in Mayorkas’ first 2 years at USCIS. In 2013, to respond to the increased demand and to ensure consistent standards, Mayorkas implemented a restructuring of how USCIS evaluated EB-5 applications. Mayorkas’ changes to the EB-5 program helped ensure its continued growth, and, in 2014, for the first time ever, USCIS issued all 10,000 of the EB-5 visas it is permitted to give each year. 

After proving his capabilities as head of USCIS, Mayorkas’ upward trajectory continued and in December of 2013, President Obama chose him to fill the role of Deputy Secretary of the DHS. Although his confirmation was stalled by allegations that Mayorkas had “exert[ed] improper influence” to approve a handful of EB-5 visa applications, an investigation determined he had been “legitimately within his purview” as director, and he was confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of DHS in 2014. While serving as Deputy Secretary, Mayorkas oversaw the DHS response to the Ebola Virus and Zika virus epidemics, as well as playing an important role in President Obama’s efforts to normalize US – Cuba relations.

The future of EB-5

Mayorkas is undoubtedly one of the most qualified people you could pick to head DHS. His personal experience as an immigrant, as well as his professional experience in managing the bureaucracy of US immigration, proves he is a choice the EB-5 industry can be confident in.

Source: EB-5 Daily

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