Monday, July 14, 2014

Moguls agree: EB-5 should be expanded (but reformed) because people "create jobs"; also, potential to trade visas for house investment

A 7/10/14 New York Times op-ed, Break the Immigration Impasse: Sheldon Adelson, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on Immigration Reform, featured the august personages of Microsoft founder Gates, legendary investor Buffett, and casino mogul Adelson, telling us, among other things, that the EB-5 immigrant investment program is mostly peachy--and could get even better:
We also believe that America’s self-interest should be reflected in our immigration policy. For example, the EB-5 “immigrant investor program,” created by Congress in 1990, was intended to allow a limited number of foreigners with financial resources or unique abilities to move to our country, bringing with them substantial and enduring purchasing power. Reports of fraud have surfaced with this program, and we believe it should be reformed to prevent abuse but also expanded to become more effective. People willing to invest in America and create jobs deserve the opportunity to do so.
Ah, the old "reform but expand" argument. The problem is that the program itself is inherently flawed. The immigrants aren't aiming to create jobs. They're aiming to get green cards for themselves and their families, and want to sign up for a project that has been calculated to create ten jobs per investor.

But those jobs need not be validated by head count, just a paid economist's report. In many cases, the immigrant investor funds, at very low interest rate, simply substitute for higher-interest capital rather than serve as the seed money without which a project wouldn't start. That's simply margin for the developer.

Worse, the immigrant investors get job-creation credit for the entire investment, not merely their portion. In other words, investors in the Atlantic Yards-related EB-5 project got the benefits of jobs calculated based on the combination of their investment and public subsidies, among other sources.

Expanding EB-5?

The moguls continue:
Their citizenship could be provisional — dependent, for example, on their making investments of a certain size in new businesses or homes. Expanded investments of that kind would help us jolt the demand side of our economy. These immigrants would impose minimal social costs on the United States, compared with the resources they would contribute. New citizens like these would make hefty deposits in our economy, not withdrawals.
Note the subtle proposal to expand EB-5 by proving visas for buying houses--even less of a connection to job creation. 

Yes, the typical social costs associated with poor immigrants would not be present, but what's the social cost of an inherently dishonest program?

Another justification

The moguls write:
We believe it borders on insanity to train intelligent and motivated people in our universities — often subsidizing their education — and then to deport them when they graduate. Many of these people, of course, want to return to their home country — and that’s fine. But for those who wish to stay and work in computer science or technology, fields badly in need of their services, let’s roll out the welcome mat.
A “talented graduate” reform was included in a bill that the Senate approved last year by a 68-to-32 vote. It would remove the worldwide cap on the number of visas that could be awarded to legal immigrants who had earned a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States, provided they had an offer of employment. The bill also included a sensible plan that would have allowed illegal residents to obtain citizenship, though only after they had earned the right to do so.
As commenters pointed out, those who come for education are not so much "deported" but see their limited visas expire.

Some comments from the Times

99Percent NJ 2 days ago
The three authors do not represent widespread opinion, nor expert opinion, nor even partisan opinion. They're just so rich that their names alone get them into the NY Times. The peculiar mix of recommendations in their essay suits them, not us.
How about a bill that prevents, not encourages, rich foreigners from buying citizenship? The benefits they bring with them are dubious at best ("job creators," the authors suggest).

DeanB Amherst, MA 2 days ago
The authors failed to cover an important topic: the areas of immigration reform on which they disagree, and what compromise they came to regarding those. As far as I can see they can only agree on two measures that would be good for business. If they want to insist that Congress should compromise, their argument would be far more effective if they provided a compelling example.

Guy Fawkes New York 2 days ago
A billionaire triumvirate proposes fixing immigration with more visas for tech grads and the rich (including those who merely buy a home, not invest in job-creating business), and allowing illegals to obtain citizenship. They promote a larger cheaper labor pool for the businesses that underpin their own wealth. They are disconnected from the communities at the sharp end of illegal migration that bear the immense financial and social costs: schools overwhelmed by non-English speakers; education systems skewed to the demands of illegals rather than citizens; overburdened healthcare systems; lower & middle class jobs lost to illegals…these core stresses are breaking the backs of American communities.
Yes, many of our forebears made it to this soil, mostly legally. In any case, that was then, this is now. The present reality is that the US simply does not have the financial or social resources to bestow upon millions of illegals whatever their sorry circumstances. We have 2nd+ generation citizens who need help all across the country; unlike billionaires and urban liberals, their jobs, communities and their kids' education are daily directly eroded by illegals.
We first need determined enforcement of immigration law. Compassionate and overwhelmed Americans are being taken for a ride by illegals. Start with more detentions and accelerated deportations; hefty fines and temporary shutdowns of employers. No amnesty, no benefits, secure the borders.

Mike Brooks Eugene, Oregon 2 days ago
What these robber barons are united behind, is more cheap labor. " immigration reform", and please read the legislation, is about more H1-B and other guest worker visas. Right this minute, there two two unemployed US hi-tech workers for *every* hi-tech job in the country. 20% of US nursing school graduates are without jobs, and "immigration reform" has meant millions of less qualified foreign nursing taking their jobs. Take a look at Microsoft, under bill Gates. He got batches of 5000 guest worker visas and fired US workers from their jobs, replacing them with those foreign workers. Furthermore, those guest workers are almost always less qualified, their single distinguishing characteristic being that they work for less than half of their American counterparts. Look at the ads for hi tech contract work. They are filled with H1-b workers, laid off after the expiration of their visas, wiling to take contract work for $10 or less per hour, most of them not paying one dime in income tax for that contract work. THAT is what this is all about, cheap labor, the destruction of the American middle class, all in the cause of even more obscene profits. We need to be taking, as a nation, about completely ending guest worker visas, not dishonestly referring to this firm of corporate welfare as "immigration reform". Shame on Gates, Buffet, Adelson, and the other like monsters.

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