As Americans struggle to stem the spread of the Wuhan virus, the Republican Party is considering bringing Wuhan to a suburb near you.
According to a Politico exclusive, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is leading an effort to increase the number of EB-5 visas offered to wealthy immigrants, supposedly to salve the economy as the crisis caused by the pandemic worsens. Between 2012 and 2018, about 80 percent of EB-5 visas went to Chinese investors. Jared Kushner reportedly is also heavily involved in this scheme.
Established by Congress in 1990, the EB-5 program strips the salience from American citizenship by reducing it to a pay-for-play scheme. It allows thousands of foreign nationals to obtain green cards and a path to citizenship in exchange for a minimum investment of $500,000―increased to $900,000 in 2019.
The spouses and children of EB-5 investors are also able to obtain “conditional green cards,” allowing them to work in the United States and attend school if they so please―usually in better ones than the average American proletarian can afford.
Some say money can’t buy everything. Congress says, “We’ve got a bill for that!”
If Republicans get their way, the number of EB-5 visas available annually would increase from 10,000 to 75,000, while the minimum investment required for legal residence will be slashed from $900,000 to $450,000―even less than the original $500,000 requirement.
Michelle Malkin exposed the EB-5 scam in her book, Sold Out. Malkin shows that this scheme does indeed sow a bountiful harvest of economic benefits―for lobbyists, bureaucrats, politicians, and mostly Chinese nationals.
Now, foreign money falling from the sky like manna may sound impressive, writes journalist Charles Lane, “until you realize that foreign investment in the United States totals $2.5 trillion and that the program’s fuzzy job-creation count includes jobs ‘indirectly’ attributable to the investment. EB-5 would be dubious policy even if it could claim five times that impact. Simply put, it is corporate welfare―yet another attempt to subsidize the flow of capital into politically favored channels.”
For the average American, however, EB-5 is a bad deal.
Using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, David North of the Center for Immigration Studies noted in 2010 that total foreign investment in the United States increased by $1.9 trillion. Based on the investors’ green card applications filed two years after the first investment, North estimated “that EB-5 investment that year was about $191 million, and that was a well above average year for the program.”
Put another way, “for every $100 of increased foreign investment that year, the EB-5 program contributed about one penny.”
Why, then, would Republicans make a push for EB-5 visas at all, let alone during a pandemic? In truth, Republicans are worse than Democrats when it comes to immigration because they veil their mass immigration schemes with legality. It was Mitch McConnell, after all, who worked closely with EB-5 architect Maria Hsia to create the program. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Hsia was a McConnell donor identified by the House Government Affairs Committee as “an agent of the Chinese government.”
A federal jury found Hsia guilty of laundering more than one hundred thousand dollars in illegal donations to the Democratic National Committee through the International Buddhist Progress Society in 2000. While Hsia was working for McConnell and others on drafting the EB-5 investor program, she also worked for a campaign fund-raising group called the Pacific Leadership Council.
“Hsia co-founded the PLC,” writes Malkin, “with Lippo Bank officials John Huang and James Riady, the chief figures in the Clinton-Gore Donorgate scandal convicted of financial crimes.” No fewer than six Lippo Bank officials reportedly benefited from the creation of the EB-5 program.
Graham is simply continuing a long tradition in the GOP: to lead the chant of “America First,” then quietly hang the red hat at the door.
Consider the actions of former Republican Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi.
In 2008, the Republican duo discreetly sent letters urging the Department of Homeland Security to approve Gulf Coast Funds Management to become a regional EB-5 center, according to documents obtained by a nonpartisan watchdog group in 2013. Regional centers function as hubs that pave the way for green-card status for foreign investors and channel foreign investment into America. But there is very little about this that is “American.”
Among the distressed domestic businesses that supposedly stood to benefit from EB-5 cash, an investigation by the Baltimore Sun found that rather than the investment minimums required by law in the hundreds of thousands, “only a small fraction of the total―often just $10,000 per investor―went to the struggling companies.”
The EB-5 program is seemingly designed for embezzling money. According to the Sun, former Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS)―the predecessor agency of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)―officials who “profited most from the visa vending business were instrumental either in formulating the program or lobbying for favorable interpretations of the program rules that aided their businesses, at times working with the same INS staff they once directed.” A weakness with EB-5 is that the rules seem plastic and therefore vulnerable to loose interpretation. This has made it difficult to terminate.
Although a December 2013 report by the Department of Homeland Security was “unable to demonstrate the benefits of foreign investment into the U.S. economy,” it did find that the legal and regulatory framework of the EB-5 program prevented the termination of regional centers based on fraud or national security concerns. The DHS report concluded:
USCIS does not always ensure that regional centers meet all program eligibility requirements, and USCIS officials differently interpret and apply Code of Federal Regulations and policies. Furthermore, when external parties inquired about program activities USCIS did not always document their decisions and responses to these inquiries, making the [EB-5] regional center program appear vulnerable to perceptions of internal and external influences.
As a result, USCIS is limited in its ability to prevent fraud or national security threats that could harm the U.S.; and it cannot demonstrate that the program is improving the U.S. economy and creating jobs for U.S. citizens as intended by Congress.
Not long after DHS issued that report, Canada canceled its equivalent of the EB-5 program for the same reasons we should but apparently cannot.
The Canadian Ministry of Finance concluded that the program “undervalued Canadian permanent residence” and “showed little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country.” According to journalist Sophia Yan, the foreign nationals “who used the program paid less in taxes than other economic immigrants, and were less likely to remain in Canada for a longer period of time. . . . In some cases, immigrant investors lacked official language proficiency.” For all the fun we poke at our neighbors to the north, they seem to have at least this figured out.
Insofar as the EB-5 program admits wealthy, mostly Chinese investors, it effectively imports a foreign elite that gradually has positioned our industries and institutions into a more favorable footing with China. People coming from China with piles of cash are almost certain to be close with the Communist Party, and, despite belief in the transformative power of our magic soil, these wealthy Chinese are not disabused of their allegiance upon setting foot here―as the Canadian experience shows.
The push within the GOP for more EB-5 visas should be considered as radical as the New Way Forward Act tabled by the Democratic Party. In a way, it is even more radical. Rather than importing impoverished masses, this would bring in a wealthy, far more resourceful and politically connected elite from an adversarial country.
Many Americans are familiar with the insidious influence of Confucius Institutes planted on American campuses across the country. “Confucius Institutes’ soft power encourages complacency towards China’s pervasive, long-term initiatives against both government critics at home and businesses and academic institutions abroad,” the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found. Soft power translates into intellectual self-censorship by Western institutions to avoid offending China.
In our media, it manifests as Bloomberg News suppressing criticism of Chinese political operatives in exchange for reporting access in China. As media analyst Jason Q. Ng recently pointed out at a talk with Google, China relies on “self-censorship by private companies,” internally and externally, to maintain the Great Firewall—the government’s censorship and surveillance apparatus.
What do we suppose might follow the proposed 650 percent increase in the number of available EB-5, Chinese-dominated visas?
Republicans―not Democrats―are leading the charge for a mass immigration scheme amid what we have been told is a national security, health, and economic crisis. They are attempting to sneak a Trojan horse into a bill to rescue Americans from a problem that originated in China, that will sell citizenship at a discount to investors with ties to the Chinese Communist regime—a regime that deliberately suppressed information about the virus and thus worsened the panic that has now brought the world to a screeching halt.
The GOP’s actions make us wonder whether the party is really that stupid, or if this crisis is not as bad as they say and is being used not only for the benefit of China, but for the members of our ruling class―from the marbled halls of power to news desks and lobbying firms―who have made fortunes by selling America out.