Those of us opposed to the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program got a piece of good news today: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced that she is opposed to its renewal. The heart of it is due to expire on December 11, unless Congress acts before then.
The senator is in a key position to argue against the renewal; she is a senior member of the Senate immigration subcommittee and the second ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration legislation.
Further, as San Francisco's most prominent Democrat, her position on the bill cannot be labeled "anti-immigrant".
To my knowledge, she is the first senator to announce such a position. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has mounted a major effort to eliminate many of the flaws of the current EB-5 law.
Her position on the bill was delivered in the form of a commentary published in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill daily newspaper.
The heart of the EB-5 program (but not all of it) will expire without congressional action, as we reported earlier.
The program makes it possible for an alien investing $500,000, usually in a big-city real estate development, to secure a set of green cards for his or her family if it can be shown that 10 U.S. jobs will result. The ability of EB-5 promoters to use indirect estimation techniques to satisfy the job-creation claim — a provision that is key to at least 95 percent of the EB-5 business — is subject to renewal or non-renewal.
Sen. Feinstein's opposition to the bill is based on the twin arguments that it is wrong to sell immigrant visas when many would-be immigrants are waiting patiently for their visas, and that the program is subject to widespread fraud and abuse. Part of her statement follows:
4.4 million people are waiting in line to come to this country. More than 97 percent of these are family members of American citizens or lawful permanent residents who have been approved to enter the country but are unable to secure a visa due to the backlog.
Others are seeking employment-based visas. ...
Simply put, EB-5 sends a terrible message to the millions of immigrants patiently waiting their turn to enter the United States legally to be reunited with their families or for legitimate employment.
It says that American citizenship is for sale, and that's not what our country stands for.
The program is also susceptible to fraud and abuse.
She then cited some of the multi-million dollar scandals in the program.
Were the program to be eliminated it would, among other things, free up 10,000 visas for aliens other than investors.