The Trump administration is considering a controversial proposal to boost the amount of visas provided to wealthy immigrants that invest money in the United States as it attempts to boost a faltering economy amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak, based on four people knowledgeable about this situation.
The proposal, which might be included in one of the Senate’s coronavirus rescue bills, would significantly boost the number of visas offered annually from 10,000 to 75,000 while halving the investment necessary to earn legal residence from $900,000 to $450,000, they say.
Half of the recipients of the EB-5 visa program — shareholders and their families — come from China, according to a report by the Brookings Institution think tank. Some others come from South Korea and Taiwan.
Immigration hardliners, who are generally supportive of President Donald Trump’s policies, oppose the proposal due to concerns regarding increasing the number of foreigners coming from the U.S., especially from China, which Trump blames for its handling of the coronavirus.
“With a coronavirus package to provide green cards to unethical investors from the country where the virus originated will be Washington at its worst.”
RJ Hauman, government relations manager at the Federation for American Immigration Reform
“Using a coronavirus package to give more green cards into unethical investors from the country where the virus originated could be Washington at its worst,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who has been in contact with the White House and the Senate in regards to the proposal. “If an immigration proposal does not improve public security or protect American workers, it does not belong there. Period.”
The proposal comes as the Trump government is placing temporary holds on other types of visas for lower-income immigrants — such as agricultural workers, camp counselors and resort workers — as U.S. unemployment is forecast to soar.
The government is also considering reversing its recent decision to increase by 35,000 the number of nonagricultural seasonal workers the U.S. brings in each year, such as landscapers, crab-pickers and lifeguards, two people familiar with the situation say.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump made cracking down on immigration the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and also a top priority of his presidency. “Our nation is complete,” Trump warned in April, standing at the southern border in California.
He has implemented harsh travel restrictions on numerous majority-Muslim states and reduce refugee caps, but he’s also endorsed proposals which would increase the number of immigrants and extend citizenship to some here illegally.
The EB-5 app was made in 1990 to boost rural areas and economically distressed urban ones. However, in recent years developers have found ways to split high-income regions into the locations.
The program has been used for years by property developers in New York City, that has been struck hard by the coronavirus epidemic, to oversee projects which have helped create jobs and generate tax revenue, according to a individual near the White House.
The Trump administration enacted a new rule in November increasing the minimum investment level and forcing the application to be used in rural and high-unemployment areas. Investments are assumed to lead to the production of 10 U.S. jobs however that requirement has been interpreted in different ways.
The suggested changes are likely to meet resistance from governors in countries with large rural populations who consider the program — since it is currently ordered — ignores them, according to a second person close to the White House.
The proposal indicates immigrants would need to be”cleared first,” but it is unclear whether that refers to the coronavirus or the immigrants’ investments. It might also address lengthy wait periods which have contributed to some reduction in participation.
Groups that favor immigration restrictions such as FAIR and Amounts USA are lobbying senators to keep adjustments to the program from their invoice and asking supporters throughout the nation to call their senators.