Drain the EB-5 Swamp

swamp-pic-rotator-720x480Forbes recently ran a story on the controversial EB-5 program titled “Here’s One Immigration Policy that Should Withstand President Donald Trump.” The EB-5 program enables wealthy foreigners to obtain lawful permanent residence for themselves, and their immediate family members, by “investing” $500,000 or more in a U.S. based development project. Enacted by Congress in 1990, the program was intended to generate jobs for U.S. workers and attract investment funds to the United States.

Advocates of the program tout it as a capital-raising miracle that carried the U.S. through the 2008-2009 financial crises. But the program has been plagued by allegations of fraud and abuse. Nevertheless, Forbes dismisses these accusations stating, “There has [sic]been allegations of fraud in the system…. Still, to say that the EB-5 program is loaded with money laundering and scandal is far off the mark. ”

Actually, it’s Forbes that is far off the mark. The program has not been short on scandal. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have issued reports criticizing USCIS for lax security procedures and failing to provide adjudicators with the information needed to detect high risk cases. DHS OIG investigated former USCIS Director, now Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas for pressuring USCIS employees to approve questionable EB-5 cases. And U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement produced an internal memorandum (that was leaked to the press) expressing concern that the program could be exploited by criminals, money launderers and foreign intelligence services.

As for claims that EB-5 stimulates capital flow and creates jobs: In October of 2016, the GAO published a report finding that most funding in EB-5 projects comes from domestic capital sources, with only 29 percent coming from alien investors. And the Center for Immigration Studies examined EB-5 data for 2010 (the year with the largest number of EB-5 applicants) concluding that, “for every $100 of increased foreign investment that year, the EB-5 program contributed about one penny.” In addition, others have pointed out that there are no reliable statistics for the number of positions created by EB-5 projects, since the program relies on fuzzy job-counting methodologies.

EB-5 is a pilot program that was set to expire in September 2016 and requires further authorization to continue. Congress extended the program until after the new administration takes office. And the program’s fate remains unclear – Donald Trump (with his son-in-law Jared Kushner) has used EB-5 dollars to fund building projects and reportedly likes the concept. But if our new President is serious about securing our borders and making sure Washington doesn’t revert to business as usual, he will formally ask Congress to stop selling visas to wealthy foreigners. The risks outweigh the rewards. It’s time to drain the EB-5 swamp.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    Matt the echoes of the Roman Empire can also create great countries through migration: United States of America

    • avatar

      Except now we take in the welfare dependent, not the people who succeeded on their own hard work because they had no choice. And don’t try and say Americans take more welfare than foreign born and their US born children. Study after study shows differently.

      • avatar

        Hahaha!!! Did you ever took math n your parents gave you some average common sense in your childhood hahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………So now there are more illegals than American S…. Go n take a cold shower u r delusional …But if courses Ian not telling u anything new….

  2. avatar

    Has FAIR submitted a response to Forbes — in the form of a Letter to the Editor, column, clarification, equal space etc? This should not go unchallenged.

  3. avatar

    Flying Syrian refugees and their families 7000 miles to the US, setting them up in housing, utilities, medical care, welfare, aren’t Americans so compassionate. If someone wants to come and invest heavily in the US, they are miles ahead of those 100,000+ refugees that Obama has imported at the taxpayer’s expense.

    • avatar

      True but it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be neither. Lots of time they are not contributing significant money and as pointed out some of it is fraud. If something is worthwhile it will get financed.

    • avatar

      Bring in Syrian refugees is not in America’s interest, they can not be vetted and possibly some are IRIS terrorist. The best way to handle the Syrian refugee issue is to establish safe zones in Jordan or Saudi Arabia. Like the Somali refugees, Syrians will not integrate into society with our culture and legal values. In fact, a recent Pew poll among Muslims in the United States revealed that they want Sharia law not the U.S. Constitution. This Syrian refugee program must be permanently prohibited. .

  4. avatar

    BFD! Most ALL countries do that. If you have money, you are welcomed with open arms. This has not changed since the civilization of man. Inviting people that make money into your country is superior to inviting illiterate uneducated peasants from third world countries ( then supporting them with taxpayers money) such as what Obama has done to America.

  5. avatar

    Is this the program where the foreigner buys an American hotel or a franchise restaurant, or a gas station and then pays no taxes for 7 years? And, then they sell it to a family member and continue for another 7 years tax free?




    • avatar

      I agree 100 an 50% , stop the program an send them all back to their home country, GAME OVER. they loose

    • avatar

      This is a great insight into what is occurring. Just a way of getting other members of your family into the USA. We see it a great deal in Glendale, California. ) < :

  6. avatar

    Speaking of Too Much In-Sourcing With Way Too Many Green Cards Issued

    Hey Toyota…..Trump don’t like your Mexican Manufacturing Planned, Cancel and move it to America or face 35% Tariffs.

    Oh BTW, a $5/hr Mexican auto worker only saves about $1000 factory cost a unit over a Detroit $27/hr UAW worker per car made….Hades, the MASSIVE rebates the UAW Big Three offer off MSRP over Toyotas more than covers union American labor costs not transmitted at the dealer anyway….LOL ….also, made in America Toyotas in southern states don’t pay $27/hr either, these non-union jobs are more like $15/hr….

    • avatar

      I have noticed that for a long time. Making those cars in Mexico doesn’t make prices any lower. A lot of people are doing 5 and even 6 year loans now when 3 or 4 used to be normal.

      • avatar

        My 2014 Dodge Charger Was Proudly Designed By Cheap American Engineers [cheaper than Japanese or EU engineers]

        I’m an engineer and could care less if they assemble ’em on the moon. No one cares about my profession, why should I care about theirs…LOL

        I drove my 2011 six cylinder Charger 3 years until someone smashed it the parking lot….sold it for $600/yr devaluation or about $2000 less than I paid new [$22000]….but American cars don’t hold their value or a much better value for the money….LOL

  7. avatar

    Forbes is for more immigration any way they can get it. This is nothing more than citizenship for sale.