The U.S.’ immigration laws of inequality

Felicia Persaud | 4/25/2019, 11:28 a.m.

The hypocrisy and inequality of America’s immigration law was recently highlighted in an opinion piece by Kriston Capps in The New York Times.

Under the headline: “Another Reason to Hate Hudson Yards,” Capps, a staff writer for CityLab, pointed out that the new, shiny $25 billion Manhattan development was financed in part through the EB-5 preferential investor immigration program.

This is a program under U.S. immigration law that “allows foreign nationals to purchase a family pack of visas by investing capital in job-creating businesses in the United States” to the tune of $500 K to 1 million, minimum.

It is much like the Citizenship by Investment programs run by some Eastern Caribbean island nations that are constantly criticized and slammed by the U.S. while it runs its own. But that’s another story for another day.

According to Capps, Related, Hudson Yard’s project developer was allowed to raise more than $1.2 billion in EB-5 financing at the lower $500,000 tier rate reserved for urban areas with severe unemployment rates.

So, for $500,000, any “investor” in Hudson Yards got a U.S. green card.

As background, the U.S. Congress created the program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. It set aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS and based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

An EB-5 investor must invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least 10 U.S. citizens, lawful permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States.

This allows anyone with money to simply roll in and attain permanent residency while leaving the tired, poor and huddled masses in limbo or subjected to xenophobia, insults and political soccer.

Take the case of Roxana, an immigrant who has lived in the United States for 32 years—nearly her entire life. She has worked her way up from a waitress, to a nurse, a scientist, a Ph.D. candidate, and a teacher.

Now she’s researching how to keep agricultural workers safe, and she teaches the next generation of nurses, who will help patients from all walks of life in America.

Yet, because of her Temporary Protected Status, Roxanne and more than 1 million Dreamers, TPS holders, and Deferred Enforced Departure, migrants who have been making a difference in their communities for years and paying their fair share of taxes, are living in constant fear that the Trump administration will take away their ability to live in and contribute to the country they call home.

Why? Simple! They are poor and according to Trump, America is full and closed to such immigrants.

It has a lot of room though for the rich around the world—as long as they can shell out $ 500,000 at minimum. Who cares if they even live here full-time, pay taxes or really want to contribute to the community they live in? Who cares if they are even part of a community but instead choose to fly in and out at whim and simply decide they want a green card to own property or a business here?

How can you compare the value of the work Roxanne and millions more have been putting into this country over decades to $500,000?

Isn’t it a whole lot more? So why are they not given a similar option? Why is Congress still languishing on measures that would make these hardworking immigrants permanent residents while someone with $500,000 can buy their way in in a matter of weeks?

The answer is exactly what keeps millions of Americans in poverty while the wealth of the super-rich, including the same lawmakers elected to represent us, continues to grow as millions live paycheck to paycheck. It is that ugly word INEQUALITY that few want to address but which continues to win again and again in the rigged process called The American Dream.

The writer is publisher at NewsAmericasNow.