A former DHS employee has cried foul on a suspected “green-card-for-sale” program, in which green card applications for high-dollar foreign investors were expedited at the behest of DHS officials, potentially creating dangerous gaps in national security.
The whistleblower’s statements shine light on investor visas that were speedily approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for GreenTech Automotive, an electric car company originally chaired by Virginia gubernatorial candidate and former Clinton campaign head Terry McAuliffe. GreenTech came under Securities and Exchange Commission investigation earlier this year for allegedly soliciting foreign investors and guaranteeing returns.The former citizenship service analyst, whose name has been withheld from a recent Washington Times report, says he witnessed more than 30 EB-5 visa program applications approved within an average of 4.3 days, a process that normally takes weeks or even months to complete.
Lack of EB-5 Application Oversight
According to the USCIS website, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was designed to “stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.”
Investors who pledge anywhere from $500,000 in high-unemployment areas, to $1 million in general to help “create jobs” are granted temporary visas and can eventually obtain citizenship.
“I’m trained to study financial corruption and corruption networks,” the whistleblower told the Times. “There were a huge number of files, and many factors to consider. Is there a semblance of an idea? Do they know their operating margins? Do they have a plan for revenue growth? What about a marketing plan? It never dawned on the Department of Homeland Security that they needed any of this.”
A month before resigning, the whistleblower had complained to the DHS inspector general that “The current mindset of pushing cases with little regard for anything other than production timelines has made it into a national security threat. A 24-48 hour production time ensures a lack of due diligence and oversight.”
David North, a policy analyst for the non-profit immigration research organization Center for Immigration Studies, called the program essentially a “green-cards-for-sale program” and told the Times the EB-5 visa program is “an extremely complicated and vulnerable way to get foreigners to invest in the United States.”
Commenting on the dozens of approved applications lacking proper vetting, the whistleblower remarked, “If I said I’m going to build paperweights that look like a bong, they’d approve it.”
Terry McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive and Clinton Ties
Back in July (2013), Memphis, Tenn. station Action News 5 revealed that electric car company GreenTech Automotive, founded in 2009 and formerly chaired by Virginia governor candidate Terry McAuliffe, was possibly created as a front to fool foreign investors.
One of the workers at the plant told News 5 they built and then deconstructed cars “over and over again to appear as if they were working,” and that autoworkers were often told to pose for photo shoots holding tools and faking car production.
“Upon the arrival at the plant of foreign investors, who can gain U.S. citizenship for large investments in U.S. companies through the EB 5 program, they pretended to work on cars to fool them into thinking they were actively producing and selling the vehicles,” reported the Washington Free Beacon.
Anthony Rodham, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother, is the CEO of a company called Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC, the company in charge of managing EB-5 investments for GreenTech Automotive. In 2009 Gulf Coast reportedly “lined up 81 foreign investors, most of them Chinese nationals,” for investment in GreenTech. If no one was producing cars, where did all the capital go?
One potential national security threat from investors came earlier in 2013, when it was revealed that a top official at Huawei Technologies Co. had also invested in GreenTech (through Gulf Coast) in exchange for an EB-5 visa, despite suspicions that the communications giant was funneling information to Chinese intelligence services.
“[I] still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications that we have no way to confirm or discount,” Liz Povar, Virginia Economic Development Partnership Vice President of Business Expansions, told the Times.
McAuliffe resigned as head of GreenTech last December, although according to Action News 5 he remains an invested shareholder.
DHS Nominee and Visa Fast Track Raise Congress’ Eyebrows
The whistleblower further revealed to the Times that any applications inquired upon by USCIS agency Director Alejandro Mayorkas or other senior officials, would be approved on the fly.
“They’d come to me and say, ‘Ali needs this fast.’ If a politician was involved, it got fast-tracked,” he told the Times.
Following Obama’s nomination for Mayorkas to fill Big Sis Janet Napolitano’s role as DHS Secretary, Mayorkas testified before a congressional hearing that accusations he helped McAuliffe fast track visas were “unequivocally false,” and denied using his position “to influence the outcome of a case.”
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn expressed “serious concerns” over the “national security and criminal threats associated with the EB-5 program.” “The program is vulnerable to fraud,” Coburn said, adding, “and we are not doing nearly enough to ensure that program participants are not a security threat.”
As we reported earkier, McAuliffe boasts in his 2008 book What A Party! of his superior fundraising abilities. Could the sale of visas be the type of “fundraising” schemes he engages in on a regular basis? And if so, what does this type of money and job manipulation mean for Virginia if he’s elected?