An EB-5 booth in Beijing, May 7, 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/Associated Press
John Vecchione and Anne Weismann highlight instances of fraud as a reason to let the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program expire (“No More Pay-to-Play Green Cards,” op-ed, Sept. 19). That would be a mistake, as it would compromise America’s competitiveness and pointlessly forgo a source of investment capital.
Any economic activity will produce some examples of fraud and abuse. Yet the presence of securities fraud, for instance, isn’t an argument against the utility of the stock market. Likewise, some bad actors trying to take advantage of foreign investors isn’t sufficient to justify abandoning EB-5, especially when those criminals are being caught and properly punished.
The Commerce Department estimated that EB-5 brought in $5.8 billion for fiscal years 2012-13 and created an estimated 174,000 jobs. Another study places the influx of capital at $20 billion since 2008. Those figures would be higher if not for the extensive backlog that has accumulated, as well as the legal uncertainty hanging over the program.
America is hardly alone in offering citizenship to attract those willing and able to add to the domestic economy.
There are certainly opportunities to reform the EB-5 system and adopt additional integrity measures designed to further combat fraud. But they must be offered with an intent to streamline and enhance the program, not sabotage it. There must also be ways to prevent political interference and corruption without damaging the nation’s ability to attract much-needed foreign investment.
Center for Freedom and Prosperity