Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are calling for a review into the controversial EB-5 immigrant investor visa program -- warning that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be abusing the program to get its members into the United States.
“Although the EB-5 program’s goal of stimulating capital investment and job creation in the United States is laudable, it has become clear in recent years that the CCP may be abusing the program to gain access to U.S. permanent residency for their members,” Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., said in a letter to Gene Dodaro, the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The EB-5 program grants green cards to those who invest in a commercial enterprise and plan to create or preserve at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers. But it has been dogged by accusations of fraud and misuse.
The letter, obtained by Fox News, cites statistics that show that between 2012 and 2018 nearly 80 percent of the nearly 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year went to Chinese-born investors and the majority of investors in the backlog are also Chinese.
Jordan and Reschenthaler say the request for a review is in line with President Trump’s toughened approach to China in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which aims to “protect the American people, homeland and way of life.”
Trump has taken a number of steps to tighten immigration to the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, including banning travel from China. In April, he signed an executive order “temporarily suspending immigration” into the U.S. However, it carved out a number of exceptions -- including for the EB-5 program.
Since then, immigration hawks and some Republicans have urged Trump to end some of those exemptions and toughen up the order. Trump officials have indicated that “additional steps” may be coming to further restrict immigration. As the administration has increasingly targeted China, the EB-5 program is a likely candidate.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate have made a number of moves to increase pressure on China for its handling of the coronavirus -- which originated in Wuhan -- and to address long-standing concerns about Chinese influence in the U.S. and abroad. Last month, House Republicans launched a “China Task Force” to coordinate a strategy against the geopolitical threat from Beijing,
The GAO has looked at potential fraud in the program before, but the Republican letter says it did not examine national security concerns in the program -- specifically that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not currently able to revoke a region’s determination on the basis of a national security risk.
“As Congress reevaluates our relationship with the People’s Republic of China, the time is ripe for GAO to again examine the EB-5 program,” the letter says.
Republicans are requesting that GAO report on a number of concerns about the program, including China’s efforts to avoid fraud detection and the extent to which the CCP has used the program to get its members U.S. visas.