Letter: Choosing an Immigration Model
To the Editor:
I read with interest the recent obituary of George Ostler, which recalled his immigration story and the fact that he was forced to leave his children in Germany due to filled quotas. Sen. Norris Cotton intervened to reunite the family.
It caused me to reflect on the EB-5 debate and my work in analyzing these programs. I do not sell EB-5 programs; rather I am hired by investors seeking advice. I have worked for clients from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Many valid criticisms have been brought against a program that allows those seeking a U.S. Permanent Residence Card (green card) to invest $500,000 in a project inside a “targeted employment area.” Often they are large-scale real estate development projects. The critical component of these projects is the jobs-creation model, which is determined to be valid or not only after an immigrant has invested money. Denial forces the investor to choose whether to fight U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or do battle with the developer to either complete the project or return the remaining cash. There is also the sticky situation where U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has changed the rules of approval after investors have committed several years and thousands of dollars into a project. Some of those cases are currently being litigated. This is why the investment is considered “at-risk.”
For me, EB-5 is only a component of a much larger immigration policy debate. My grandmother came to this country and lived in my parents’ house for over 25 years. Never worked a day in her life. Why a check arrived monthly from the U.S. Treasury until the day she died confounded me. Or, there is the family who crossed illegally into this country working low-wage jobs to survive. They, more or less, became an American success story. However, I know that forged signatures, illegal Social Security numbers, lying on federal college-aid forms and decades of deceit are also part of that story. I am not sure which story we as a nation should be most proud of, but we surely need to decide.