The Obama Adminstration Moves on Immigration…For a Corrupt Ecuadoran Family

Gawker ran this under the headline “The Obama Administration is Corrupt as Fuck”, which is overstating things maybe (although the ambassadorial nominations of late are particularly infuriating and not a good look). A biting story from The New York Times:

The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials.

…The Obama administration has allowed the family’s patriarchs, Roberto and William Isaías, to remain in the United States, refusing to extradite them to Ecuador. The two brothers were sentenced in absentia in 2012 to eight years in prison, accused of running their bank into the ground and then presenting false balance sheets to profit from bailout funds. In a highly politicized case, Ecuador says the fraud cost the country $400 million.

…while scrutiny has typically focused on whether the family’s generous campaign donations have helped its patriarchs avoid extradition, the unorthodox help given to Ms. Isaías, the daughter of Roberto, has received little attention.

…For more than a year, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his staff engaged in a relentless effort to help Ms. Isaías, urging senior government officials, including Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, to waive the ban. The senator’s assistance came even though Ms. Isaías’s family, a major donor to him and other American politicians, does not live in his state.

The Obama administration then reversed its decision and gave Ms. Isaías the waiver she needed to come to the United States — just as tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the family poured into Mr. Obama’s campaign coffers.

…In an interview this year, Roberto Isaías said the family’s donations were targeted to members of Congress who fight for human rights and freedom of speech in Latin America. He said he had met Mr. Menendez once or twice. “If you go to his website,” Mr. Isaías said, “it says, ‘If you have an immigration problem, call me.’ ”

The senator’s website does offer such casework assistance, under a category titled “Services for New Jerseyans.”

That, beautifully, is how the piece ends. The kicker on all this is that Ms. Isaías’ waiver might have been secured by a one Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s former Chief of Staff in the State Department. This is all going to be swallowed up by the news cycle, but it’s an important reminder, I suppose, of just how little the Obama administration has differed from administrations past in its willingness to engage in this kind of wheeling and dealing. And Menendez seems like an embarrassment, honestly.

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