There are a lot of reasons to be alarmed about President Trump’s immigration policies, but the White House’s views on the EB-5 immigrant investor program, and President Trump’s authorization of a short extension of the program to September 30, 2017, while a reform bill is being ironed out, is “spot on the money,” if you will pardon the pun.
President Trump extended the program for a few months while Congress carefully considers changes to the EB-5 Program focusing on integrity measures, increasing the minimum investment amount, and ensuring that a fair share goes to rural and depressed urban areas, and to closed military bases. Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) have both introduced well-thought out bills that will correct deficiencies that have emerged in the past 25 years. A recent White House statement indicated the administration “is evaluating wholesale reform of the EB-5 program to ensure that the program is used as intended and that investment is being spread to all areas of the country.”
I’m delighted to see the Trump Administration has got this one right. While it’s too early to tell what will actually be included in the reform, it gives hope that the smart people in the White House may at some point find the correct immigration road. Building stupid walls and private prisons for the mass incarceration of hardworking immigrants and tearing apart families of workers to satisfy extreme nationalist tendencies is revolting. Creating jobs for U.S. workers at no expense to taxpayers is not.
The fact of the matter is that over $21 billion of primarily Chinese investor money has been invested in U.S. businesses through the EB-5 program in the last three years alone, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs. With EB-5 capital usually constituting less than 33%-50% of the capital stack in development projects, this program has accounted for over $50 billion in new construction projects. Across America, hundreds of projects from hotels and housing projects and elderly care facilities have been built using EB-5 capital. Downtown Los Angeles is being transformed from an urban blight resembling Michael Jackson’s video “Bad” into a 21st century modern metropolis. Most of these developments are funded by Chinese investors and the EB-5 program.
That the President’s son-in-law and key advisor was the CEO of a company that has used EB-5 money is not a bad thing. This company used EB-5 capital well before President Trump was elected, and Jared Kushner has since recused himself from all involvement with EB-5 decisions.
The EB-5 Program is good for America and good for Chinese investors, not all of whom are that rich. Some parents save every penny and live sparingly, so they can invest in the EB-5 program with a dream to educate their children at top universities. This program admits only about 3,000 families annually and has created thousands of direct and indirect jobs for US workers without costing the US taxpayers one penny. This program should be renamed the “Put America First Program,” as it is exactly consistent with President Trump’s message. The EB-5 Program brings in billions of dollars, creates jobs, and costs America nothing. My hope is President Trump will change the program to admit 10,000 investors and expand the program since the US admits almost a million immigrants a year, and these high-level investors create jobs and bring capital and the number of immigrants admitted is extremely small. This is a good deal, and I’m hopeful President Trump and the American people will be supportive.
The idea that America should only admit the poor and struggling is also one-sided. We should admit the best and the brightest, as well as poor homeless refugees and unskilled workers to fill jobs Americans won’t do. We are at 4.4% unemployment and desperately need farm workers and skilled and unskilled workers in many occupations. America is a nation of immigrants that has succeeded by admitting people like President Trump’s father and the smart and driven First Lady.
Let’s continue to keep America great by admitting hardworking immigrants, and a few thousand investors, not all of whom are so rich, if they love this country and want to live the American dream. It is this quest that has created the greatest democracy in the history of humanity.