Congress Disappoints on Controversial Visa Program

According to reports, Congress skipped another deadline for reforming the EB-5, also known as the “Golden Visa” program, and left it for President-elect Donald Trump and the new House and Senate to clean up.

Critics are saying this program is an expedited entry point for foreign terrorists into the U.S, as well as a pathway to citizenship for wealthy foreign investors who invest at least $1 million dollars into economic development projects. They are offered a $500,000 discount if they invest in economically struggling areas, reports David Sherfinski at The Washington Times. Basically, the program allows wealthy foreigners to buy their way to U.S. citizenship.

The controversial visa program, devised by the George W. Bush Administration, has been deemed fraudulent and politically corrupt. It allegedly involved a scandal that reached the highest ranks of the Department of Homeland Security. Despite being deeply flawed, Congress disappointed many by renewing the visa program without reforming it, reports Sherfinski.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, had this to say about the missed opportunity to make much-needed changes to the visa program: “After another year, we have yet another missed opportunity.” He continued that the EB-5 program is wrought with “fraud and abuse” and “poses significant national security risks.” He also believes that the program may be “facilitating terrorist travel, economic espionage, money laundering and investment fraud.”

EB-5 remains under fire for several money laundering schemes, one which was charged by federal officials in Vermont, after it was discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars were being diverted as part of a Ponzi scheme, says one report.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the former head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that ran the EB-5 visa program, also came under fire in recent years when an inspector general found that he engaged in “unprecedented” intervention to help get EB-5 approvals in cases involving politically connected Democrats. Among the figures were outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

While the Department of Homeland Security claims to have addressed some of the program’s fraud risks, it still remains rife with issues and scandals.

The fundamental issues with this visa program and the pay-for-play by wealthy individuals with political ties are exactly why President-elect Donald Trump says he plans to forge ahead to “drain the swamp” when he takes office next month.

It has been reported that his transition team has not made an official statement about Trump’s position on the visa program, but some predict it may thrive under his presidency, largely due to his background in real estate investing.

Charles Gargano, the executive director of the U.S. Immigration Fund, speculated, “Under President-elect Trump, a developer himself, he will magnify the need for a program like this,” according to The Real Deal, a New York real estate publication.

David North from the Center for Immigration Studies believes it is unlikely that a dramatic overhaul will happen under Trump or that the program will “get killed,” but he did think it could be “usefully reformed.”

On the other side of the fence, those in favor of the EB-5 visa program believe “at least $11 billion in community investment and more than 220,000 American jobs would disappear if the EB-5 visa simply ended,” reports Sherfinski.

H/T: The Washington Times

 







 

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