Supporters of the program have a basic mantra: “It creates jobs for U.S. workers at no expense to the U.S. taxpayer.”
That’s what Stephen Yale-Loehr, an adjunct immigration law professor at Cornell University and founding director of the EB-5 trade group Invest in the USA, told PBS NewsHour last week.
That’s pretty much what Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), eager to attract investment to his state, claimed in a statement.
But claiming that EB-5 investments create jobs at no expense to the taxpayer is bogus. It’s also why an expected compromise regarding reauthorization of EB-5 falls short, despite improvements to the program.
Having covered the EB-5 issue for five years, especially regarding its role in the controversial Atlantic Yards (now known as Pacific Park) real estate project in Brooklyn, I think the program should be stopped in its tracks and fully revamped, not simply tweaked.
The ability to monetize a scarce public asset — access to the United States — has become a gravy train for developers seeking cheap loans, immigration attorneys, China-based migration agencies and federally-authorized investment packagers known as regional centers.
The profits at stake prompt deceptive practices — both in marketing investments and claiming job creation — that distort the intent if not the letter of the law.