For years, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has been battling to get rid of 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 $500,000 in the U.S. and create or preserve 10 jobs. Thus, the rich can buy their way to the front of the 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 hosting meetings of wealthy Chinese investors to get them interested in a Jersey City project last week, when New York Times and Washington Post reporters showed up.
Kushner Meyer told the audience the development she was touting “means a lot to me and my entire family.” A slide on the screen showed that she clearly meant to include President Donald Trump in that phrase “entire family.”
In other words, the president, who promised to drain the swamp, has family members out using their insider connections to line their pockets. A law professor and former attorney in President George W. Bush’s White House, Richard Painter, called the episode “corruption, pure and simple” in an interview with NBC News.
When a reporter tweeted out an image from the event, the people in charge 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 saying. Real news can be hurtful to those trying to use influence to make money.
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 – all to limit access to America to those he either fears or despises. Yet his extended family feels entitled to entice wealthy foreigners with promises of U.S. visas. People with money, clearly, have no problem gaining access to the Trump family’s version of America. It oozes hypocrisy.
By Monday, Kushner Companies had issued an apology, of sorts, denying that Nicole Kushner Meyer was name-dropping was any kind of “attempt to lure investors.” In a statement, the company wanted to “make clear” that Jared Kushner has nothing to do with the project that Kushner Meyer was hawking. The press release also blamed the use of Trump’s photo on the event’s organizers.
The EB-5 program has been used to pave developments in Manhattan, San Francisco and Las Vegas. 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. 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 massive budget bill Trump signed last week extends it until Sept. 30.
In a change of heart on Monday, the White House said it would be considering “wholesale reform” of the program to ensure it was “used as intended.”
The problem is that it’s likely the bill was being used as intended. It puts a price tag on citizenship.