George Orwell’s books are boring compared to the perfidious irony inherent in our government’s response to the China virus.
At a time when we need to shut off all immigration to deal with the concerns of Americans, Jared Kushner and Sen. Lindsey Graham are pushing for more immigration.
At a time when Americans are going to be desperate for every job available, these same players are pushing for more visas for foreign workers.
At a time when we need to engage in social distancing and decoupling from China, the source of this outbreak, they are pushing for a 650 percent increase in visas that will enable Chinese nationals not only to get green cards, but to own more of our land and businesses through “investor visas.”
A 650% increase in Chinese “investor visas”
EB-5 visas were created by Congress in 1990 with the intention of drawing entrepreneurs to America. The idea sounded nice on paper. It offered 10,000 green cards a year to those who invested at least $500,000 in America, creating at least 10 jobs. Yet, in reality, tethering a green card to wealthy, well-connected foreign donors with ties to their home governments has created corruption and cronyism for one particular country.
EB-5 benefits Chinese interests and parochial interests of big-city real estate moguls in America … like Jared Kushner. A business colleague of Kushner’s has even been charged in an EB-5 fraud lawsuit. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an EB-5-related probe into the Kushner family real estate firm.
The Chinese government has gamed out the system and has monopolized these visas the same way India has monopolized H-1B visas. This is a double whammy. It allows China to insert more agents into our country and also continue to buy up more of our land and businesses, making us even more dependent on China at a time when we are trying to curb its influence. As former Rep. John Bryant, D-Texas, once said on the House floor, "Have we no self-respect as a nation? Are we so broke we have to sell our birthright?"
Even the Washington Post called for ending this program. In 2014, Canada terminated a similar visa program, noting that it "undervalued Canadian permanent residence" and offered "little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country."
One would think that given the threat of spreading disease, trade theft, espionage, and losing our sovereignty and ownership to China, we would immediately suspend immigration and visas from China or at least make modest cuts and reforms. Yet Politico is reporting that the Trump administration and Sen. Lindsey Graham are advocating to increase the EB-5 cap from 10,000 to 75,000 and lower the investment threshold to $450,000 from the current level of $900,000. They want to use the next “rescue” bill to push this.
Three Senate staffers and one administration source told CR that Kushner is the driving force behind the push for EB-5. However, one source expressed confidence that it would not be added to the bill due to long-standing opposition from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Pat Leahy, D-Vt.
Expanding Chinese investor visas in a China virus relief bill is the equivalent of the idea of building a mosque at ground zero.
More H-2 visas when Americans will be looking for work in droves?
After expanding H-2 low-skilled visas to record levels, the DHS has no plans to reverse course, despite the impending job losses for Americans. DHS Secretary Chad Wolf announced a 35,000 expansion of H-2B visas on March 5. Meanwhile, the farm lobby is pressuring the State Department to approve more applications for H-2A agricultural workers. It wouldn’t be surprising if they secure a provision for this in one of the coming emergency bills frantically passing without substantive debate.
With a figure no less powerful than Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin himself predicting up to 20 percent unemployment, why in the world would we bring in more foreign workers? Not to mention the logistical problem with increased travel during a time of quarantine. Now that we will suffer the collapse of an economic nuclear winter, why not rebuild our economy with American labor and American goods on American soil? Have pandemics not taught us the lessons of hyper-globalization?
Refugees and illegal aliens will continue as we are all quarantined
As I reported earlier this week, both refugee resettlement and asylum requests at our border have continued unabated throughout the months of this epidemic and even after the national quarantine on Americans began. Yesterday, the U.N. finally announced a shutdown of resettlement, and the Trump administration announced it would begin turning back illegal aliens at the border. End of story, right?
Well, there’s always more to the story.
“Due to the temporary suspension, we notified our implementing partners to expect a refugee arrivals pause from March 19 through April 6,” said a spokesperson for the State Department in response to a query from CR. “We will work with our implementing partners to plan for a resumption of refugee arrivals on or after April 7.”
Thus, at a time when we are being told that schools, churches, and workplaces might be shut for months – and indeed, some states have already shut public schools and colleges for the remainder of the school year – they are working to restart refugee resettlement in just two weeks? Aside from the logistical and health care concerns, why would we bring in more refugees at a time when our own people are languishing to the point that we might still have “shelter in place” orders in early April?
Meanwhile, at the border, while Trump announced his intention to turn back all illegal migrants, that policy is not yet in place. At the same time, the cartels are taking advantage of the chaos and smuggling more people and God knows what else.
Aside from the numerous existing reasons to slow down immigration across the board, just from a standpoint of labor and logistics, it is time for Congress to call for a one-year suspension of all new long-term worker visas, student visas, and immigrant visas. We need the jobs for Americans, and we need to regain control of our own destiny as a nation. Hyper-globalization failed us and has caused the worst crash of our society in our lifetime. The answer for policymakers is not to double down on all the elements that crowned China the global king and put us at its mercy.
President Trump must not just call this crisis the Chinese virus; he must treat it as such too.