Raised the FBI's concern.8:30 AM, Feb 3, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
ABC reports on suspicious visas being fast-tracked -- and the role played by the top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid. First, the report explains the program:
Officials overseeing a federal program that offers an immigration short-cut to wealthy foreign investors have ignored pointed warnings from federal agents and approved visas for some immigrants suspected of having committed fraud, money laundering, and even one applicant with alleged ties to a child porn website, an ABC News investigation has found. The shortcomings prompted concerns within the Department of Homeland Security that the boutique immigration program would be exploited by terrorists, according to internal documents obtained by ABC News.
“It is shocking,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican. “Particularly when you have F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies that are saying national security could be compromised or is being compromised -- that's enough for us to be concerned.”
Five different Homeland Security whistleblowers spoke with ABC News about a range of cases where visas were approved despite numerous red flags. They said objections were often ignored because the immigration program is so popular within the Obama Administration and with members of Congress from both parties. Known as the EB-5 visa program, foreigners who are willing to invest $500,000 in an American business can jump to the front of the line and obtain legal status to live in the U.S. for two years. If the investment is shown to create at least 10 jobs, the investors can receive a “Green Card” -- permanent residency.
And only later, buried in the story, is Reid's involvement explained:
In recent years, as the program has grown dramatically in popularity, it has sparked controversy.
In 2013, then-Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was accused by political opponents of trying to prod federal officials to approve visas for investors in an electric vehicle start-up venture he ran. He denied that he sought undue influence. In 2014, questions about an EB-5 investment scheme in South Dakota became grist for political ads targeting then-U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds, who was attacked for his role in oversight of investment projects while he was governor. Rounds called the attacks political and "inaccurate" and "defamatory."
Questions about the SLS Hotel project in Las Vegas first gained attention when an article in The Washington Times revealed that Homeland Security expedited the processing of investor visas after Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) and his staff began prodding the department to move faster. Reid aides said their push to eliminate longstanding bureaucratic hurdles with the program and was aimed at creating local jobs.
But in a series of interviews, Homeland Security whistleblowers who spoke with ABC News on the condition they not be identified said their greatest concern was that political pressure to expedite the review process has led officials to grant visas to applicants who had significant red flags in their backgrounds.
When the SLS Hotel chain sought to fund construction of a hotel on the Las Vegas strip using foreign investors, Reid and his aides urged immigration officials to speed up their review of the visa applicants, internal emails show. Each visa applicant approval meant another $500,000 could flow into the construction budget, and the developers were anticipating as much as $200 million from foreign investors.
Michael Vannozzi, then a top aide to the senator, wrote to say that a failure by immigration officials to push through approvals could cause the project’s major investor, JP Morgan Chase, to back out. Emails show Reid personally appealed to the then-head of USCIS, Alijandro N. Mayorkas, to give the matter his attention. Mayorkas, who has since been promoted to deputy secretary, responded to the request by saying he would take “a fresh look” at the issue.
1:03 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a press conference with reporters today on Capitol Hill, Harry Reid described what he's been up to since injuring his face and ribs in an exercising accident:
4:09 PM, Jan 21, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The office of Harry Reid announced that the top Democrat in the Senate will undergo eye surgery to recover "full vision in his right eye." He'll miss a week of work while he's recovering.
“On Monday, as a necessary step to assist in recovering full vision in his right eye, Senator Reid will undergo surgery on his right eye at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Senator Reid was notified that this surgery will be necessary following a doctor’s appointment yesterday," announced a Reid spokesman today.
3:29 PM, Jan 6, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid, went directly to the camera to discuss his exercising accident:
11:15 AM, Jan 6, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
After a weekend exercise accident left the top Democrat in the Senate with broken ribs and bones in the face, Harry Reid is working from home.
"Working from home on doctor's orders. Just wrapped up a good meeting with my leadership team," Reid tweets, including a picture of himself.
10:06 AM, Jan 2, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Harry Reid had an accident while exercising, the Senate Democratic leader's office tells reporters.
Here's the full statement:
“On Thursday, Senator Reid received treatment at University Medical Center in Las Vegas for injuries sustained in an accident he suffered while exercising at home in Henderson.
5:28 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In one final ignominious act of parliamentary genius, outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid rolled Republican troublemaker Ted Cruz of Texas over the weekend, robbing the GOP of a chance to stop Democrats in the lame-duck session.
'I want to go home.'11:09 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid, admitted today that he hasn't slept at home since May. The admission comes the same week Reid is beginning to plot his 2016 reelection.
7:01 AM, Dec 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
There's more Obamacare bashing from the political left today. This time it's from outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
As he tells a New York Times reporter:
And go fast.8:35 PM, Nov 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Harry Reid, who is finishing up his term as Senate majority leader, has some words of advice for President Obama: "go big" on executive amnesty.
"I believe that when the President decides to do his executive order, he should go big -- big as he can," Reid told the press today.
Congress ponders how to stop Obama’s unilateral immigration moves. Nov 24, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 11 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Move over, Barack Obama. The Republicans are now the party of hope—at least when it comes to Obama’s expected executive order on immigration.
“We hope the president isn’t going to do that,” Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the soon-to-be Senate majority leader, said November 13, in his first postelection press conference at the Capitol.
5:11 PM, Nov 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senate majority leader Harry Reid wants President Obama to hold off on his planned immigration executive order.
11:44 AM, Nov 9, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Given the time and money that went into the recent elections, it seems there ought to be a final word. A summing up. A few words to put a period on the whole business. Something, somewhere. From somebody. There was plenty of analysis – not quite “instant,” but close enough.
Hosted by Michael Graham.8:45 AM, Nov 3, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the GOP's good odds of retaking the Senate.
8:05 AM, Oct 31, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Harry Reid is now "begging" for support. He made the comment in an email to supporters of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The subject for the email from Reid, the Senate majority leader, reads: "I'm begging." Which is no wonder considering his job is at stake -- if Democrats lose the Senate, Reid will no longer hold his current leadership position.
"Daniel -- I’ve been emailing a TON," Reid writes.