My colleague David North has published a blog post titled "DHS Proposes New Rules for Inept Entrepreneurs". The rules in question are the latest installment of the long-running Obama do-it-myself series, "How to Demolish Federal Immigration Integrity and Enforcement in 1,000 Easy Steps While Congress Acquiesces".
North has it exactly right when he says the rule is for the inept, but I also think there's plenty of latitude for the clever and manipulative out there too. What outrages me most is the qualifier for alien "entrepreneurs" who "receiv[e] significant awards or grants (at least $100,000) from certain federal, state or local government entities".
Follow along as I create one of many short hypothetical scenarios of how this could play out.
Five aliens, part of a weekend social gathering of people with the same national origins, are grouped in conversation. One is telling the others of this incredible new program he's heard of whereby the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will permit "15 percent" entrepreneurs to stay in the United States legally. The others are a bit skeptical. It sounds too good to be true; could the U.S. government really be this foolish? Nonetheless they're keenly interested because all are in the country illegally — three are H visa overstays, one is a B visa overstay, and the fifth is a foreign student who dropped out of his graduate degree program. One of the doubters whips out his smart phone, does some Google searching and there it is, by golly, for all to see.
Excited, the five check out the program guidelines and agree then and there to pursue it together. Come Monday, the first thing they do is legally establish an equal partnership of five, giving each one 20 percent of the value of the business. They do it using one of those relatively cheap online software programs, with forms tailored to the state where they live. They each dip into their savings and pony up $5,000 per partner, thus capitalizing the new venture at a very modest $25,000. There are no assets save the money.
Then they regroup for a few days, spending several hours together hunched over laptops at the dining table of one's apartment, drafting technical plans for the revolutionary new "Effable Ionic Transducer", the EIT for short. They promptly spend nearly all of the partnership's capital on attorney and filing fees submitting the EIT to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. They've checked timelines and know that the Patent Office is just about one of the slowest turtles in the sprawling federal bureaucracy. It will take months, more probably years, to get a response of any kind on their submission. But this works to their benefit because they can now refer to the EIT as "patent pending". That doesn't really mean anything — just that the submission has been officially filed and the fees paid — but it sounds impressive.
Next stop is the state's Business Enhancement Administration (BEA), where the partnership applies for a $500,000 small business grant. Their paperwork of course is based around the EIT (patent pending!), which they say is "virtually guaranteed to fundamentally change global electronics manufacture with its ecologically friendly energy transfer and savings properties." Now the BEA's business is to give away tax dollars (not necessarily always wisely). The reviewers there don't know transducers from shinola, but they're excited at the possibility of their agency being on the ground floor of something so revolutionary and eco-friendly. That the partnership is also a minority enterprise is like icing on the cake. It takes a bit of time, but the money's approved.
The final stop on this journey is the local branch of your friendly U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, where the five each and severally apply to stay in the United States legally under the new program. To establish evidence of eligibility, they happily submit copies of their legal partnership; paperwork related to the revolutionary Effable Ionic Transducer (patent pending!); and copies of the approved BEA grant for half a million dollars.
Anyone care to bet what happens from here?
The whole thing might be a small potatoes version of the Solyndra scam, but it would play out in slo-mo over several years, and in the meantime the five are happy campers living the American dream, of sorts. And who knows? With just a little bit more taxpayer-subsidized grant money up the road, that EIT could yet change the way our world works.