The Drumpf hypocrisy when it comes to China never ends.... Bloomberg reports that the Trump Tower project in New Jersey has tried to...
raise tens of millions of dollars through a controversial government program that offers expedited visas to foreign investors overwhelmingly from China. While the program has many supporters who argue it attracts foreign capital and creates jobs at no U.S. taxpayer cost, congressional overseers and Homeland Security have raised sharp concerns. Applicants are sometimes cleared in less than a month and the critics say the government is essentially selling visas to wealthy foreigners with no proven skills, paving the way for money laundering and compromising national security.
The motives behind the HB-5 Visa are noble. The idea is to encourage investors who want to become American citizens to invest their money in areas where there is high unemployment. Encouraging construction in rural or otherwise under-served areas is desirable, and is indicated in the rules for this Visa program.
But Trump is building in Manhattan and New Jersey. How is he able to get away with it? Fuzzy math.
Virtually every development using EB-5 funds today finds a way to qualify for a lower investment hurdle by being designated a targeted employment area, or TEA, according to NYU’s Friedland. Currently, investors need only invest $500,000 in a project that falls within a TEA, compared with $1 million for other projects.
To be counted as a TEA, a district has to have a jobless rate that’s at least 150 percent of the national average, or be in a rural area. In New York and other large cities, multiple census tracts are stitched together to create zones of high unemployment, enabling areas like Manhattan’s far west side to qualify. States decide what constitutes a TEA.
Of course the states of New York and New Jersey are going to claim the upper West Side needs charity funding of construction projects, because money. And Trump and company are more than willing to play along to get their projects funded.
In the meantime, this program provides not just a fast-track, but a turbo track, for millionaires who want to buy a visa to the US. At a time when every Republican candidate for anything wants to turn off the immigration pipeline for everyone else, rich immigrants, primarily from China, are throwing half a million into any investment that qualifies just to get the visa (often in less than a month.)
Even Fortune Magazine smells a rat:
[B]ecause the EB-5 industry is virtually unregulated, it has become a magnet for amateurs, pipe-dreamers, and charlatans, who see it as an easy way to score funding for ventures that banks would never touch. They’ve been encouraged and enabled by an array of dodgy middlemen, eager to cash in on the gold rush. Meanwhile, perhaps because wealthy foreigners are the main potential victims, U.S. authorities have seemed inattentive to abuses.
But losing half a million dollars is worth it for US papers. This shoddy process makes a mockery of both job creation and our immigration system.
From the standpoint of conservative primary voters, the hypocrisy is clear. The assumption of the HB-5 program is that a foreigner who has half a million to invest in US real estate can't possibly be a terrorist or drug dealer.
Tell that to a Trump rally.