- - Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Daniel J. Mitchell’s defense of the EB-5 Regional Center Program omits key information and proceeds to discredit arguments nobody is making (“Helping a program that creates American jobs,” Web, July 16, 2018). His key complaint is that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recent hearing on EB-5 had a single witness, whom he claims was sympathetic to Chairman Chuck Grassley. Tellingly, he never names that witness.

The witness Mr. Mitchell wishes to ignore was Francis Cissna, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs the EB-5 program. Evidently, Mr. Mitchell obscures this fact because Mr. Cissna admits that his agency doesn’t have the authority to curb endemic fraud in the EB-5 program and recommends the program be allowed to expire absent legislative reform. When was the last time the head of a federal agency advocated ending a program it runs? That alone should give you an idea of the problems with the EB-5 program.

Mr. Mitchell’s claims of job creation are at best unverifiable and at worst illusory. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general wrote in 2016 that the EB-5 program “does not provide USCIS the authority to verify that foreign funds were invested in companies creating U.S. jobs.” In a separate report the IG similarly concludes that USCIS regulations permit “foreign investors to take credit for jobs created with U.S. funds, making it impossible for USCIS to determine whether the foreign funds actually created U.S. jobs.”

The IG also uncovered how the Obama administration improperly manipulated the program to benefit politically connected companies associated with former Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife and former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

Simply stated, the EB-5 program operates as a cash-for-visa scheme, and whatever economic advantage its advocates claim it offers the American public is far outweighed by the corruption it engenders, the cronyism it tolerates and the foreign threats to national security that it invites. It’s time to end the EB-5 program.


Director of investigations, Cause of Action Institute


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