More importantly, reforms are needed to protect against national security risks that allow foreign nationals to invest for the purpose of laundering money or conducting espionage against us.
L Francis Cissna, Director, USCIS
Then why doesn’t Mr. Cissna and the department of which he is director investigate the alleged abuses about which he is so concerned and that are outlined in this 23 June 2018 Bloomberg/Quint article? Money laundering is within the realm of possibility but part of their job and that of the law firms that process the applications is to prevent this from happening. EB-5 spies? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s on terrestrial par with his boss’s wacky proposal for a “Space Force.”
The EB-5 program is a source of cheap money from outside of the US that is used for a variety of private sector construction projects, including hotels, condos, offices, senior citizens centers, student dormitories, etc. (If you don’t know, or are not sure, what EB-5 is, click on the link to read a USCIS description – from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.)
The concept is simple: non-US Americans of means who want permanent resident status for themselves and their unmarried children under the age of 21 invest $500,000 (in most cases) in an approved EB-5 project. (Each investment should create at least 10 permanent full-time jobs.) If their application is approved and the project is successful, the money is refunded with a very small amount of interest. Most importantly, they receive provisional green cards.
In the case of Viet Nam, which ranks a distant 2nd – after China – in the number EB-5 applications filed, most parents do it for their children. It means they don’t have to worry about changes in US immigration policies and laws. Their children, the majority of whom have studied in the US, can remain there for the long term, if they so desire, and work. They have all the rights and responsibilities of US citizens except they can’t vote, which is hardly a deal breaker.
The EB-5 program has been a bee in the bonnet of the anti-immigration crowd for a long time, including people like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). This whole scenario reminds me of Bill Maher’s 2017 sketch, New Rule: What Would a Dick Do?, in which he “tells Republicans that they have to learn the difference between being a conservative and just being a dick.” What would a dick do, in this instance? Eliminate the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, of course! Those damn ferners are tryin’ to sneak into God’s country via its southern borders and the rich ones are buyin’ themselves Green Cards and citizenship with their millions of dollars. Many of ’em are launderin’ money and hankerin’ to become spies, to boot. God help US!
Is this a program that essentially sells permanent resident status that can lead to citizenship? Of course it is, in a byzantine sort of way, and it’s one that’s been in existence since 1990. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, as it’s formally known, has allowed billions of dollars to finance thousands of construction projects to the benefit of the US economy. What’s not to like?
Two key differences between now and then are the current anti-immigration and nativist climate (think “Make America Great Again!” and “America First!”) and the anti-Chinese sentiment because, after all, official USA always has to have at least one or two national boogeymen and whipping boys. (The other country official USA loves to hate is… Russia and the USSR, before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.)
Bottom line: If there are abuses, deal with them. If there are problems, solve them. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And, please, for God’s sake, let’s dispense with the hysteria about “national security risks that allow foreign nationals to invest for the purpose of money laundering money or conducting espionage against us.”
P.S.-Here are some related posts from earlier this year: