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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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