Sen. Lindsey Graham is using the coronavirus recovery bills to dramatically expand the award of EB-5 green cards to wealthy Chinese if they lend money to U.S. real estate investors and other companies, according to several activists and Politico magazine.
“How can people pushing this not see how politically explosive this is?” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “An EB-5 increase would almost exclusively benefit Chinese: It is hard to imagine what they are thinking.”
The plan by Graham, (R-S.C.) was provided to Politico, which said it would “boost the number of [EB-5] visas offered to wealthy immigrants who invest money in the United States as it tries to boost a faltering economy amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak, according to four people familiar with the situation.” The Politico report added:
The proposal, which could be included in one of the Senate’s coronavirus rescue bills, would significantly boost the number of visas offered annually from 10,000 to 75,000 while halving the investment required to earn legal residence from $900,000 to $450,000, they say.
Half the recipients of the EB-5 visa program — investors and their families — come from China, according to a report by the Brookings Institution think tank. Many others come from South Korea and Taiwan.
Breitbart News asked Graham’s office for comment. The office responded by saying, “Check with the Majority Leader’s office. He is handling the package and what will/will not be included.”
Immigration reformers say they are astounded by Graham’s apparent willingness to have the GOP portray itself as covertly selling fast-track citizenship to wealthy Chinese migrants amid the mounting human toll and economic cost caused by China’s coronavirus.
“It is appalling – it is not even like in any tangential way related to the crisis we’re in,” Krikorian said, adding, “anybody who signs on to this is going to get some of the splatter.”
“Why on earth would they be going down this path? Who is telling them this is a good idea?” said Preston Huennekens, a lobbyist at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Trump’s deputies reformed the EB-5 program in 2019 to cut corruption and to spread the spending outside coastal cities, he said, so any walk back would be really alarming, he said.
Instead of a serious push, “I hope it is a play” just to get political donations from the investment groups, said one source.
GOP leaders seem to be resisting special interest grabs by GOP and Democrat legislators. “The goal here is to deal with this emergency created by this epidemic,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said March 17. “Anything that doesn’t address that pandemic to me should not be considered.”
The Graham amendment would expand the EB-5 program, which awards EB-5 green cards and the promise of citizenship to foreign investors who lend money to private U.S. companies. The program is widely used in the real-estate sector by investors to raise construction funds.
The program is often described as a citizenship-for-loans scheme, in which American citizens are forced to share their citizenship with the wealthy foreign families who lend their money to wealthy American investors.
The EB-5 program has been a boon to the real estate investors who use it to raise funds for new construction in prosperous coastal cities from wealthy Chinese and Indians who want green cards.
But the program is so scandal-prone that Trump’s Department of Homeland Security imposed a major rewrite in 2019. The rewrite forces lenders to lend twice as much money and pressures them to lend their money to poorer communities outside the major coastal centers.
The EB-5 program is largely blocked because EB-5 groups have already sold far more offers of citizenship to their Chinese lenders than the government can fulfill during the next 15 years. The EB-5 groups have tried to loosen their China backlog — and restart the sale of green cards to Chinese lenders — by passing a law which removes the long-standing “country caps” that preserve diversity in the annual awards of green cards.
The bill to remove the “country caps” is being pushed by Sen. Mike Lee, (R-Utah) supposedly on behalf of roughly 300,000 backlogged Indian contract workers who have been imported by American CEOs and investors.
Lee’s bill, numbered S.386, has stalled because of the widespread opposition from both parties, from the Americans professionals who lose jobs to the Indian visa workers, from foreign graduates who would be pushed to the back of the line, and by Senators with large dairy industries.
The 300,000 Indian workers took jobs held by Americans professionals in the expectation they would be rewarded green cards. But because so many Indians choose to take jobs from American graduates, they have created a multi-year backup in the government’s line for green cards. The Indian visa-workers are now demanding that the “country caps” be removed so they can get the cards ahead of people from other nations.
DoJ/EEOC do nothing as US & Indian execs trade US jobs to Indian #H1B workers, cutting Americans out of careers, homes & families.
This trade choked innovation in Silicon-V, slammed insurance & banking. #SenMikeLee & #S386 will expand it to healthcare https://t.co/qoENwyO6X7
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 9, 2020