Citizenship for Sale: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

America’s fraud-ridden cash-for-citizenship scheme, officially known as the EB-5 investor-visa program, took some more hits in Congress this month. Don’t bet on any improvements.

Frank Cissna, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, testified that his agency is unable to effectively secure the program that began as a pilot project 28 years ago.

While issuing green cards to foreign nationals who invest $500,000 to $1 million in U.S. job-creating ventures, USCIS continues to lack the tools needed to exercise meaningful oversight and enforcement of privately run “regional centers” that collect foreign cash. Cissna told the Senate Judiciary Committee his agency:

  • Does not have statutory authority to terminate a regional center for criminal or security concerns.
  • Cannot prohibit persons from participating in regional centers and associated commercial enterprises based on their criminal history or civil fraud or securities-related violations.
  • Is not authorized to tighten regional center reporting, such as requiring certification of compliance with U.S. securities laws, disclosure of pending litigation, details of how investor funds are utilized — or even an accounting of jobs created!

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, a longtime critic of EB-5, said, “In spite of ample evidence of fraud and corruption and national security loopholes, this ‘pilot program’ continues to operate exactly the same way it did [at its beginning].” The Iowa Republican revealed a few recent black eyes:

  • Last January, 120 Chinese nationals sued an Idaho real estate development company, alleging they were fraudulently coerced into investing more than $60 million through EB-5. Grassley called the venture a scam to get “quick, easy money.”
  • In May, two companies were barred by the SEC from selling securities after their top officers fraudulently raised $22.5 million in EB-5 capital from Chinese investors. The firms advertised they would use the proceeds to develop a condominium complex. Instead, the companies’ president and his wife raked off more than $12 million to buy homes for themselves.
  • Also in May, two Maryland residents were charged with defrauding 31 immigrant investors. The pair reportedly diverted EB-5 funds intended to create jobs after Hurricane Katrina to purchase vacation and rental properties for themselves.

More enforcement powers at USCIS could have averted these and hundreds of similar scams that make the promotion of EB-5 “golden visas” to wealthy foreign nationals a mockery of U.S. citizenship.

With the EB-5 “pilot” sputtering toward its Sept. 30 expiration date and yet another pro-forma congressional renewal, Cissna said the program remains in “dire need of reforms to better protect U.S. investors, businesses and communities against fraud, abuse and mismanagement.”

“More importantly,” he added, “reforms are needed to protect against national security risks that allow foreign nationals to invest for the purpose of laundering money or conducting espionage against us.”

Congress will ignore these warnings and wield its rubberstamp at America’s peril.

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  1. avatar

    Cue music from Twilight Zone. On Thursday Nancy Pelosi claimed “We have a responsibility to protect our borders. Democrats have been strong on that point”. ??? On what planet would that be?

    What they have been FOR is rewarding every illegal here with amnesty, catch and release for all those caught at the border, no deportations for those in the country, sanctuary cities, no requirements for verified identification to vote, vilifying those who actually have been “strong” on enforcement, the list is endless. What they have been AGAINST is a wall, troops at the border, workplace enforcement such as checking SS numbers, detention of criminal aliens so ICE can take them into custody before they are released to the streets, and on and on.

    A lot of people claim that there was border enforcement in the 2013 Gang of Eight “reform” bill. A total lie because it was another case of a complete amnesty up front and the enforcement consisted of “studies” to make recommendations two years down the road.

    A lot of Democratic candidates have been saying they would not support Pelosi as speaker if Dems take control of the House. One such candidate is Danny O’Connor who had previously repeatedly ruled out supporting her. He is the Dem candidate in the 12th Ohio Congressional district which will have a special election on Aug 7 to fill the seat because of a resignation. A couple days ago Chris Matthews asked him several times whether he might vote for her. He avoided the question but eventually said: “I would support whoever the Democratic party puts forward”.

    This is the sheep in wolf’s clothing con job they are pulling all over the country. Pretend to be a moderate, even praise Trump and talk about working with him, but in the end it will be Pelosi and Schumer running things. There’s nothing stopping the Democrats now from taking a vote on whether they think she should be Speaker. They refuse to do it.

  2. avatar

    This is totally wrong in so many ways if it’s true. Can’t be sure nowadays. Illegal is illegal if you want to open a business in America you have to be an American Citizen period. Our laws say that you can not work in America if you are not a Citizen so that should also include ownership of a business as well. No matter what the document says reality is owned by illegal hire illegals as long as they can get away with it. That’s only common sense. Watch out for your own.

  3. avatar

    Gee, US citizenship is so precious that wealthy Chinese – we’ll leave aside the matter of how they got wealthy in a ‘communist’ country! – will plunk down half a million bucks for it. And here we Americans are handing it over for FREE to those whose mothers merely broke their water on US soil. Can you say “Dumb Gringos!”…?