The Cash-for-Visas Program

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As part of his warmed-over jobs plan, President Obama is repackaging “Buy American” stimulus subsidies to help hard-hit homegrown businesses. At the same time, however, Congress is pushing to expand a fraud-riddled investor program that puts U.S. citizenship for sale to the highest foreign business bidders.

Call it the Buy America Cash-for-Visas plan.

As I first reported 10 years ago, the EB-5 immigrant investor program was created under an obscure section of the 1990 Immigration Act. The law allows 10,000 wealthy foreigners a year to purchase green cards by investing between $500,000 and $1 million in new commercial enterprises or troubled businesses. After two years, foreign investors, their spouses and their children all receive permanent resident status — which allows them to contribute to U.S. political campaigns and provides a speedy gateway to citizenship. The program is set to expire in 2012.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration subpanel entertained calls to save the EB-5 law. Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren is sponsoring a bill to salvage the immigrant investor visas. The legislation (sponsored by open-borders Democrat John Kerry and Republican Richard Lugar in the Senate) also creates a second program with lower barriers to entry that would provide “start-up visas” for foreign entrepreneurs. They would be granted unconditional permanent-resident status if they create a government-determined number of jobs.

And there’s the rub. Obama’s make-believe math on stimulus jobs saved or created — coupled with the snowballing $535 million, stimulus-funded Solyndra solar company bankruptcy scandal — tells you all you need to know about Washington’s credibility in picking economic winners and losers.

If the feds can’t be trusted to invest government subsidies wisely in American companies, how can they possibly determine which overseas investors will be successful here? And if top U.S. loan officials have demonstrated such sloppy, politically driven disregard for financial due diligence on risky half-billion-dollar enterprises, how can immigration officials be trusted to better protect the national interest?

Answer: They can’t.

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  • Barry Bureaucrat

    You have published an unauthorized pictorial representation of Form I-90, a breech of federal law. In just a few days, federal storm troopers with tanks will be knocking down the doors at frontpagemag…

  • LindaF

    I've been wondering about the plethora of "Asian" hotel owners in SC and other states. They never seemed to be concerned about the number of empty rooms they had. On the other hand, they would often make a deal below the posted room price.

    Now I know. Many of them are paying to get their right to stay here. They're paying the owners of the property, who are helping them fill out paperwork saying that they "own" the hotel. Then, they are being charged by the owners to lie for them.

    Many of the hotels weren't all that profitable before. This turns them into a cash cow for the owner, and a way to get residency for the new immigrant. Win-win – for them.

  • tramky

    Hmmm. Given a choice between foreigners who bring money to the United States, and the ragtag riff-raff who stroll across the Mexican border every night, I'll take the people with money. Perhaps their money can be used to finish the southern wall to keep Mexican wanderers OUT of the United States.

  • ks360

    in the 1970's I worked for a woman from Ceylon. Both she and her husband had "purchased" their visas in order to come to the US, as had many of their family. Apparently it was something about paying to be listed as a scientist rather than an regular foreign citizen. So buying citizenship has been around for years.

  • MinnieM

    This really ramped up from 1995 to 1998? Wasn't Clinton Presdient then? Why doesn't that surprise me? Anything for a buck. When the Clintons entered the White House Hillary was fretting that they were depending on their Whitewater investmnet to pay of Chelsea's college. When they left they were worth $100 million. Go figure.