Update: China City Proposal Drops EB-5 References, Changes Name

By David North on August 4, 2015

In late 2013, we described a proposal to turn a bit of pristine Upstate New York wilderness into a massive, apparently mono-ethnic China City theme park to be funded largely by EB-5 immigrant investors. At the time, we quoted from its then gaudy website (much gold and red and traditional Chinese music) to show the multiple internal contradictions in the proposal and the adverse impacts it would have on the environment.

The same organizers, using the same site in the Town of Thompson, a rural area about 95 miles northwest of New York City, have now converted their proposal to one involving the "Thompson Education Center".

There have been other changes, too: It no longer publishes material in broken English, there is now no discussion of every province in China being represented at the location, and since a press release dated September 14, 2014, none of the publications of the organizers that I have seen have even mentioned the EB-5 program.

In fact most, if not all, of the original website has been taken down and it no longer uses the following misleading bit of DHS stationery that opened the website for a long time:

This document says in large letters "Notice of Action", but if you read the tiny type will you see that the action was just the receipt of the China City application for regional center status filed on December 13, 2011. (USCIS, to its credit, no longer issues these documents in this format.)

Given the fact that the Obama administration loves the EB-5 program, and has approved hundreds of new regional centers since 2011, one can safely assume that the China City proposal either is still in the pending file or has been quietly rejected by the feds. DHS announces the licensing of the regional centers (middlemen entities between the alien investors and the actual developers) and the occasional termination of existing regional centers, but not the rejections of applications, so we may never know what happened within DHS on this matter.

The EB-5 program gives an alien investor and his or her spouse and their children a batch of green cards for investing $500,000 in a project sponsored by one of the regional centers. DHS, fortunately for the taxpayers, does not guarantee these investments. The part of the EB-5 program that permits these purchases of visas is one that has been authorized temporarily by Congress and is due to expire on September 30. Despite the obvious, and sometimes not so obvious, blemishes of the program, it is likely to be extended as the middlemen (not the aliens) have a strong lobby.