Three Tidbits of Immigration Policy News

By David North on December 27, 2017

Three immigration policy news items emerged recently, on cheating in the EB-5 program, on the House Judiciary Committee's minority leadership, and on birthright citizenship in a U.S. island territory.

EB-5. Yet another way to defraud the immigrant investor (EB-5) program has appeared, but in this case the DHS staff noticed it before it went into effect.

In the type of investment concerned, that of an alien buying a specific existing operation, the EB-5 rules demand that the alien must fund an "at-risk" investment of at least $1 million that will produce 20 jobs in order to secure the family-sized set of green cards. (Most EB-5 investments are pooled, and require a $500,000 investment and the creation of 10 jobs.)

DHS caught an alien putting the right amount of money into an already over-capitalized business, a restaurant; since the money was not needed to create or strengthen the business, it was neither "at risk" nor capable of creating jobs.

DHS staff rejected the application, the applicant appealed to the in-house appeals agency, the Administrative Appeals Office, and one of the AAO's nameless administrative judges ruled that the staff was correct.

Ranking Member Contest in House. As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the beleaguered John Conyers (D-Mich.), who is not seeking re-election because of sexual harassment charges, had resigned from his post as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration legislation. That left an opening to be filled by the vote of the Democratic caucus of the House.

The contenders were Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), an immigration lawyer, pro-open-borders spokesperson, and skillful defender of Silicon Valley, and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who votes like Lofgren on immigration issues, but is not a specialist in the field. Both receive immigration-reduction grades of F- from NumbersUSA.

Nadler, who has one more term of seniority than Lofgren, was selected. Lofgren will remain the ranking minority member of the immigration subcommittee, and would be its likely chair should the Democrats obtain control of the House.

Nadler, by the way, represents the Wall Street area of Manhattan, most of that island's west side, a chunk of Brooklyn, and all of Liberty (formerly Bedloe's) Island, which has the Statue of Liberty, and a small piece of Ellis Island, the rest of it being in New Jersey. Why Ellis Island was divided between the two states by the Supreme Court is an interesting story, but outside the purview of this posting.

Birthright Citizenship. Speaking of islands, and Wall Street, the Wall Street Journal sent a reporter 7,806 miles west of its newsroom to write about birth tourism in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, just north of Guam in the Pacific.

The reporter, Jon Emont, wrote:

The number of American babies born here to Chinese women who entered as tourists ... climbed — to 472 last year from eight in 2009 — according to the Northern Marianas government. Last year, for the first time, more Chinese tourists gave birth here than Americans.

The attraction to the Chinese parents, as I noted some years ago, are multiple: The child is an instant U.S. citizen; that child, 21 years later, can start the process of chain migration on behalf of his or her parents; and a pregnant mother can come to the CMNI for the birth without even a tourist visa because of a DHS-created parole program designed to bring tourists to these islands.

The attractions to the CNMI government are multiple, also: The arrivals of the prospective parents support tourism, the islands' main source of income; and the father, mother, and baby leave the island a week or so after birth, and are highly likely never to return, thus putting the burden of the additional population onto the Mainland, not on the islands. (The grown-up CNMI babies are much more likely to settle, in future years, in some part of the United States other than CNMI).

The Trump administration can end CNMI birth tourism with a press release, preferably in both Mandarin and English, which says that while it will continue the tourist parole program generally, it will no longer accept the arrival of pregnant alien women. Will it do that? We will see.

I doubt it for two reasons: The U.S. government is hopelessly short-sighted on population issues, generally, and this administration, in particular, is not good at nuance, and cutting off the birth tourism trade in the Marianas is certainly a policy nuance. I hope I am wrong.

The author is grateful to Joseph Whalen for calling the EB-5 decision to his attention.