As President-elect Joe Biden‘s top Cabinet nominees trudge through their Senate confirmation hearings before he becomes president in less than 24 hours, his pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, is facing scrutiny for reported favoritism in expediting green cards for wealthy foreign nationals.
Until 2013, Mayorkas served as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security until 2016.
A 2015 report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) said that, while heading USCIS, Mayorkas had intervened to help expedite visa requests for wealthy foreign investors in instance relating to the EB-5 visa program.
The OIG, however, found that Mayorkas did not break any laws.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) argued Tuesday that Mayorkas reportedly speeding up the green card process for Chinese nationals is “disqualifying.”
In a clip from a Fox News interview that the senator shared, Cotton says Mayorkas “was found by Barack Obama’s inspector general to be guilty of selling green cards to Chinese nationals, on behalf of rich Democratic donors. Think about that. Selling citizenship to well-connected Chinese nationals on behalf of Democratic Party donors. That is disqualifying.”
In three different instances regarding the EB-5 visa program, which lets foreign nationals invest at least $900,000 in U.S. development projects to be granted green cards, staffers were worried by Mayorkas’ behavior, according to the 2015 OIG report.
Moreover, the report stated that employees were concerned that Mayorkas was giving special treatment to Democrat-linked investors, according to The New York Post the week after Biden announced the DHS nominee.
The report specifically mentions that Mayorkas intervened to help investors with links to former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Anthony Rodham, the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The Post noted.
“I do regret the perceptions that my activities created and I take responsibility for those perceptions,” Mayorkas said during a 2015 House Homeland Security Committee hearing when asked about the report.
“I did not let errors go unchecked, but instead helped ensure that those cases were decided correctly, nothing more and nothing less,” he added.
If the U.S. Senate confirms Mayorkas, he would be the first immigrant to ever serve as homeland security secretary. Born in Havana, Cuba, Mayorkas and his family fled to the United States shortly after he was born.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent
China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.
But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”
The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients. According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”
Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.
The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.
Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.
The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”
Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.
According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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