Drain the swamp! cried the President-Elect, who now meets foreign dignitaries amidst tacky extravagance worthy of Saddam Hussein. What more swampy program could our First Fascist Family drain than EB-5, which will likely cruise unreformed under our capitulating South Dakota delegation‘s noses in yet another lazy budget resolution? EB-5 exemplifies the kind of big-money corruption driving policy for corporate interests:
PAUL SOLMAN: Last year, six bills were introduced in Congress to reform the EB-5 program, increasing scrutiny of the so-called regional centers, private firms that sponsor EB-5 developments. None passed. Why?
MICHAEL GIBSON: There are a few regional centers with very powerful connections in Washington, including their lobbyists. They are concerned any reform would impact their ability to raise capital for cities such as New York and Los Angeles and Miami.
…PAUL SOLMAN: Scandals, fishy financing, yet lobbyists have kept Congress from cleaning things up, for the usual reasons, says Gibson.
MICHAEL GIBSON: The developers are very well-financed, well-heeled. They donate to the political campaigns of many of these politicians. So if the developers can save several million dollars, they are going to encourage their politicians to have them — allow them to use the EB-5 capital for their development. It’s self-interest [Paul Solman, “The Visa Program Leaving Hopeful Immigrants Empty-Handed,” PBS NewsHour, 2016.11.17].
But how can the Trump-Kushner cabal turn on the dimes EB-5 has put in their pockets?
Just this month, Trump Bay Street, a 50-story luxury apartment building, opened in Jersey City, New Jersey, built by a company run by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who raised a quarter of the project’s $200 million financing from EB-5 investors in China [Solman, 2016.11.17].
Trump is also tied to an EB-5 pitch to Chinese investors in Texas.
The corporate seizure of EB-5 as a profit center endangers not only honest domestic business but our international credibility:
MICHAEL GIBSON: The issue is that it is affecting the credibility of the United States, because granting what is probably the most cherished document in the world, a U.S. passport, and path to eventual citizenship is really in the hands of developers, who at times do scheme and fraud to take advantage of the investors [Solman, 2016.11.17].
EB-5 is a center of corrupt business lobbying influence over immigration policy that damages American credibility. It is everything that Trumpist rhetoric says America voted to stop. Yet it is everything that Trumpist greed wants. Which will win, rhetoric or greed?
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies, 1938.04.29].