For years, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has been battling to scrap the rotten EB-5 visa program that allows rich foreigners to use their wealth to jump to the head of the line toward citizenship.
Feinstein’s effort received an unwitting boost this weekend, because of the greedy actions of Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of President Donald Trump’s senior adviser-son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband.
The EB-5 program awards green cards to foreign investors who invest just $500,000 in the U.S. and create or preserve 10 jobs. Thus, the rich can buy their way into line for U.S. citizenship.
Nicole Kushner Meyer, a principal in the Kushner family real estate business and first daughter Ivanka Trump’s sister-in-law, was in Shanghai and Beijing seeking wealthy Chinese investors in a Jersey City project last week, when New York Times and Washington Post reporters showed up.
Kushner Meyer told the audience that the development she was touting “means a lot to me and my entire family.” A slide presented to the audience depicted Trump himself.
In other words, the president, who promised to drain the swamp, has family members who are trading on insider connections to line their pockets.
The people in charge of the event evidently realized they were in for bad press and reacted accordingly, evicting Western reporters from the room. “This is not the story we want,” The Post quoted a PR person as saying. Indeed, real news can hurt.
Trump vows to build a wall at the Mexican border, defends his attempt to ban travel from seven majority-Muslim counties, and refuses to admit Syrian war refugees. And yet his acquisitive extended family feels entitled to entice wealthy foreigners with promises of visas, for a price. It oozes hypocrisy.
The EB-5 program has been used to pave developments in Manhattan, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the area around the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. It has also been used to fleece unwitting victims.
On Jan. 24, Feinstein and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced S. 232 to end EB-5 visas. On Monday, Feinstein said “there isn’t a better example of how the program has been distorted than the Kushner Company’s marketing campaign in China.”
The EB-5 visa program was supposed to expire in April. But the budget Trump signed last week extends it until Sept. 30.
In a recent column, The Sacramento Bee’s Foon Rhee questioned why Trump failed to target EB-5 visas. The answer becomes clear.