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Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2001 / 29 Teves, 5761

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

American citizenship for sale? -- IN HIS inaugural address, President George W. Bush issued a call to reinvigorate citizenship: "We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them."

Bush can do his part by eliminating one of the greatest abuses of American citizenship: the immigrant investor visa program. It has spawned a niche market in skirting laws, scratching backs, and selling out.

This fraud-ridden scheme was created under an obscure section of the 1990 Immigration Act, signed by Bush’s father. Known as the EB-5 law, it allows wealthy foreigners to purchase green cards by investing between $500,000 and $1 million into new commercial enterprises or troubled businesses. After two years, foreign investors, their spouses, and children all receive permanent resident status – which allows them to contribute to U.S. political campaigns and provides a speedy gateway to citizenship.

Making political access and the privilege of citizenship available to the highest foreign bidder offends the very ideals Bush wants to promote. Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers, a longtime critic of the program, noted: "All you need is green. You do not have to know anything about the poor and huddled masses that Emma Lazarus wrote about…How crassly we demean this precious blessing we call citizenship."

Supporters of the program claimed it would attract substantial overseas investment to aid struggling American businesses. But the benefits of this economic development plan have gone mostly to former Immigration and Naturalization Service officials, who formed lucrative limited partnerships to cash in on their access.

Here’s how the racket worked: Immigrant investors paid token fees to these partnerships. The partnerships secured promissory notes for the remainder of the foreign investments, which were forgiven after investors received their permanent green cards. Former INS employees, working for these partnerships, aggressively lobbied their old colleagues to accept such bogus financial arrangements. As a result, according to an internal U.S. Justice Department investigative report, "aliens were paying $125K" instead of the required $500,000 to $1million minimum, and "almost all of the monies went to the General Partners and the companies who set up the limited partners."

A Baltimore Sun investigation last year found "only a tiny fraction of the money ever made it to the companies seeking assistance." Many of the distressed U.S. firms that the program intended to help have closed because they never received promised funding.

Steven Perlman, a New York City immigration lawyer who sued the government to disclose parts of the internal investigative report, told me last week that the EB-5 program became a "money-making machine." That wouldn’t have been possible, Perlman notes, without political protection. One INS document indicates that officials worried about keeping "promises to the Hill." When the agency finally moved to end fraud, "influential Members of Congress protested,'' according to the New York Times.

Key supporters of the immigrant investor visa program included Democrat Sens. Paul Simon and Ted Kennedy. Republicans embraced it, too. Prescott Bush, W.’s uncle, was on the board of American Immigration Services, one of the leading visa vendors. So was former President Bush’s INS commissioner, Gene McNeary. And leading GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell worked closely with the woman who was instrumental in drafting the EB-5 law: Maria Hsia, a McConnell donor who later laundered more than $100,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic National Committee through a California Buddhist temple.

At the time Hsia was working for McConnell and others on the immigration bill, she also worked for a campaign fund-raising group called the Pacific Leadership Council. Hsia co-founded the PLC with Lippo Bank officials John Huang and James Riady, the chief figures in the Clinton-Gore Donorgate scandal convicted of campaign-finance crimes. At least six Lippo Bank officials have reportedly benefited from the EB-5 law.

Was this visas-for-sale program established to launder foreign funny money into our political system? We may never know for sure, but President Bush should shut down this suspicious pipeline now and stop the shameless pimping of Lady Liberty.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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01/15/01: What America owes me
01/10/01: Temptation and trash TV
01/05/01: Cop-haters welcome in Hollywood
01/02/01: Ignoring a hate crime in D.C.
12/26/00: Use ultrasound to combat abortion
12/26/00: Pardon Clinton? Just say no!
12/21/00: Smacking down free speech
12/18/00: Brace yourselves for Floridation
12/14/00: Blame enviros for electric mess
12/11/00: UNICEF's deadly mission
12/06/00: The Amish vs. the feds
12/04/00: Downey and the Drug War
11/29/00: Let the sun shine on the Supremes
11/22/00: Peace prize for a murderer?
11/20/00: Baby Boom parents are asleep on the job
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11/10/00: Who cares about election fraud now?
11/08/00: Ms. Houston, you have a problem
11/03/00: The Million Mom Murmur
11/01/00: GOP revolutionaries head for the hills
10/27/00: My impeachment referendum
10/25/00: Gore’s Good Daddy Gambit
10/23/00: Tribulations of a dubious 'tribe'
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10/16/00: How the West was seized
10/12/00: Fight the anti-pesticide pests
10/10/00: Moochers at the multiplex
10/05/00: Pay for your own day care
10/02/00: Not every senior demands a handout
09/27/00: Racial hype at the Olympics
09/25/00: Watch the other Washington
09/20/00: Textbook case of media arrogance
09/18/00: New York: Land of medical pork
09/13/00: Voices from the womb
09/11/00: No cure for generational pain
09/08/00: Notes on a West Coast wilding
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09/01/00: For those who labor 24/7
08/28/00: There's something about Rudy
08/25/00: A conservative case against Napster
08/22/00: Death Row Marv mocks justice
08/18/00: The party of Maxine Waters
08/14/00: "Make-A-Wish" shoots down dreams
08/10/00: Who will stop Bill Lann Lee?
08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
07/31/00: Hey, GM: Build cars, not quotas
07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
06/23/00: Kids in a public school daze
06/21/00: Fed up with Fannie and Freddie
06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
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06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
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12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
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07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
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07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate