A million dollars came from Nicholas A. Mastroianni III, whose family firm, the United States Immigration Fund, is a major force in the contentious federal EB-5 visa program. The program, which allows wealthy foreigners to seek United States residency in exchange for investments here, expires at the end of April; Mr. Trump has not yet taken a position on it.Yes, indeed, EB-5 backers want the status quo--or a slightly modified version---to remain.
As I wrote in City Limits, Emerging Kushner Deal Suggests What’s Wrong With U.S. Investor Visa Program (and with video linked on this blog), Mastroianni's father (updated) made a damning admission regarding EB-5, which is supposed to create ten jobs per investor. Last November, when asked at a panel in Shanghai how EB-5 could escape allegations of fraud—after some high-profile scams and scandals—Mastroianni advised picking the right project.
“Projects that don’t typically need the capital are the projects that we look to lend money on,” he stated at the session, sponsored by The Real Deal. “If a project can’t be developed without the EB-5 capital, it’s not a project that you should be looking to invest in, because you’ve got a desperate situation.”
That disclosure was dynamite, though not to his audience. After all, if Mastroianni-funded developments like Trump Bay Street, 701 Times Square in Manhattan, and Pacific Park don’t need EB-5 loans, the program has no reason to exist. It just trades visas for profits. Public assets produce no public benefit.