What is the easiest way to become a United States citizen?
Plunk down $500,000 for a project in a Target Employment Area or qualified rural area under a program known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Or you can invest $1 million in a qualified project elsewhere. Not only does it buy you a visa and a green card but it puts you at the front of the line for citizenship if that’s what you want. If you have a spouse or unmarried child under 21 you can buy their way into the United States as well.
Congress created the program in 1990 as a way to stimulate the economy.
You don’t need a desired skill. You don’t need a sponsor. All you need is plenty of money and a smart investment counselor.
The investment must be in a commercial enterprise and generate or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified United States workers. Bureaucrats contend EB-5 investment created 131,000 jobs between 2005 and 2015.
And you thought it was all about the wretched masses coming to these shores with a dream and a desire to work hard.
Immigration is — always has been and always will be — bottom line driven. The notion that immigration is primarily an altruistic American virtue is nonsense.
For the most part legal immigration has been encouraged — and illegal immigration tolerated — to build the country. The 27-year-old EB-5 effort is the most brazenly obvious with its intent. Sink $500,000 at least into America’s economy and you’re welcome here.
The masses that flowed through Angel Island in San Francisco Bay and Ellis Island in the New York harbor were allowed in to provide the cheap labor needed to build this country. Whether it was the Chinese to build the Transcontinental Railroad or the Irish to build East Coast cities it has always been about the economy first and foremost. Even after World War I and World War II the large influx of immigrants were needed as America shifted from fighting wars to building the domestic economy.
That’s not to say refuges haven’t been let in for humanitarian reasons. Immigration in its purest form is about what immigrants can do for the country. The fact immigrants can improve their lot in life or at least that of their children is a byproduct. We may be a nation of immigrants but our ancestors were allowed in for a reason. Even European nations that established beachheads in the New World — England, Spain, and a smattering of other countries — sought immigrants to travel to these shores not to better their lives but to help build profitable industries in the colonies and in turn expand the economy of the respective empires.
It is why the latest green card or visa debate regarding the proposal to clamp down on the number of needed skilled workers to be allowed in during a given year will go nowhere. Advocates of what is being termed a crackdown are correct in pointing out quotas established by law have been ignored and that all they are trying to do is simply enforce the law.
The high tech workers are needed to fuel economic growth. The argument by some in the Silicon Valley that they are losing jobs to green card holders willing to work for less is no different than the complaints against Irish immigrants in the 19th century that were accused of costing Americans manual labor jobs by a willingness to take less pay.
Politicians in Washington, D.C., would prefer to look the other way.
As far as illegal immigrants, what do you think would happen to the economies of many cities such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami and even places that have less than 50,000 residents if there was a real crackdown.
The sanctuary city movement provides a convenient way to mask the fact illegals working off the books make the economy work. Yes, government may incur costs whether it’s education, healthcare, and such but the reality is it is a cost for America doing business as it currently does.
While there are a number of farmworkers with green cards, there is a large number without who are here illegally and are making it possible for plentiful and inexpensive food to be on our tables.
The need for workers and how immigrants, legal and otherwise, play a key role in our economy needs to be discussed and debated in Congress and real reform enacted. We gain nothing by reducing the debate to pure emotion that ranges from “we’re saving the poor and oppressed” to “they are stealing our jobs and if they are working under the table they are taxing government services.”
As long as emotion carries the day on both sides of issues related to legal and illegal immigration there will be no reform.
In a way, neither side can afford for their not to be chaos as it destroys their preferred narratives Immigration is not altruistic by nature and the contributions of immigrants to this country outweigh perceived problems.
The dirty little secret is big corporations as well as Mom and Pop operations benefit from illegal and legal immigrants just as do the richest people who enhance their bottom lines and the poorest people in being able to put food on the table.
Pull back the curtains we’ve woven, and it might not have pretty consequences for politicians of all stripes and leanings.