KABR Group and the Kushner Companies, until recently headed by Senior White House adviser and husband to president Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, Jared Kushner, is offering EB-5, Immigrant Investor, visas to Chinese businessmen investing $500,000 or more in a luxury apartment complex the group is planning to build in New Jersey.
If you’re like me, this particular visa program was something I’d never heard of and was surprised to find that it’s been around for 27 years. It was created by congress in 1990 in an effort to stimulate a sluggish US economy. It essentially allows wealthy investors from around the world to purchase permanent resident status, a green card for themselves and their families if they invest $500,000 in an American commercial enterprise. The EB-5 visa program already enjoys great popularity among wealthy Chinese looking to stash their investments in offshore accounts to avoid Chinese taxes. Apparently, the practice of avoiding taxes is universal and not just an American anomaly.
While Jared Kushner’s attorney has assured the American public that he’s divested his personal interests in the planned construction into a family trust, his involvement still raises conflict of interest issues. Especially with several investors quoted as saying that the Kushner relationship with the current POTUS was the primary reason they attended. It sounded as if they expected special access to the president would be included in their investment. Perhaps because the event organizers, Qiaowai, touted Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, also in attendance as the event’s heavyweight honored guest.
Another curious development is that journalists from The New York Times and the Washington Post were “removed” from the meeting even though it was advertised as a public event. What’s troubling about barring or removing media is that this seems to be a recurring theme for this administration. While still campaigning, candidate Trump had Univision anchor Jorge Ramos removed from a meeting. As POTUS, this trend has continued. The White House blocked numerous media outlets after calling the press “the enemy of the people.” They included CNN, BBC, The New York Times and others from a press briefing in February of this year.
I thought restrictions would have tightened following the events of 9/11 but could find no indication that they did. In fact, the program was expanded in 2003, just two years after the tragedy. And again in 2013. There was pressure on Congress earlier this year to abolish the program but it was extended again.
Guess we’re going to have to update the Emma Lazarus poem on the base of Lady Liberty.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Tired? OK. Poor? Call us when you’ve got a cool half million or more and please see the Kushner family if you want Presidential access.