The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has released hundreds of pages of emails plus other documents in support of its investigation of improper influence on the EB-5 immigration program.
Many of the documents discuss hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for film and television productions from Sony Pictures and Time Warner with prominent politicians including former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendall and the office of former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa interjecting in an effort to get approvals.
Since inception in 1990, the EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to become conditional permanent residents upon an investment of at least $500,000 for a qualifying project that creates American jobs. Entertainment studios begun to eye the program to get film investment capital, but some projects have been rejected. For example, in 2009, Lionsgate was denied funding from EB-5 investors because it was determined that the studio was not legally obligated to accept the funding.
After a whistleblower stepped forward, DHS’s inspector general looked into whether Alejandro Mayorkas, former director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, gave special treatment to politically-connected applicants and exerted improper influence in the adjudication of the EB-5 program. A core part of the investigation looked into Mayorkas’ order reversing a decision denying funding of Sony movie projects. He’s also said to have handpicked a review board to review a separate series of Time Warner movie projects.