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U.S. government program gives immigrants residency for $500,000


E NOW WITH THAT STORY. PAUL. REPORTER: WELL IMMIGRANTS WHO WANT TO LIVE IN THE U.S. ARE FORCED TO WAIT AS LONG AS A DECADE JUST TO GET A GREEN CARD, BUT A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM CALLED EB5 ALLOWS WEALTHY IMMIGRANTS TO JUMP TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE IF THEY CAN FORK OVER $500,000. THE PROGRAM HAS BEEN HIT WITH ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD AND ABUSE AND NOW SOME IN CONGRESS SAY IT NEEDS TO GO. [APPLAUSE] REPORTER: NEWLY MINTED AMERICAN CITIZENS CELEBRATED LAST MONTH AT THIS NATURALIZATION CEREMONY IN PITTSBURGH. FOR SOME IT WAS A LONG JOURNEY.>>I CAME TO THE STATES IN 1992, SO IT’S A KWAFRT QUARTER OF A CENTURY. IT’S A PRETTY SPECIAL DAY. REPORTER: FOR THE OWNER OF A CHINESE RESTAURANT IN SQUIRREL HILL THE WAIT FOR A GREEN CARD WAS MUCH SHORTER. HIS FAMILY GOT HIM INTO THE EB A 5 PROGRAM AND PAID $500,000. WITHIN TWO YEARS HE HAD A GREEN CARD, AND THAT WAS CONSIDERED A LONG WAIT FOR SOMEONE USING EB5.>>THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT YOU SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO BUY YOUR CITIZENSHIP FOR HALF A MILLION DOLLARS OR A MILLION DOLLARS, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT? IT’S NOT LIKE YOU BUYING THE CITIZENSHIP, YOU NEED TO CREATE JOBS. REPORTER: HE’S RIGHT, THE PROGRAM DOES REQUIRE THAT INVESTORS CREATE TEN JOBS FOR EACH 500,000-DOLLAR PAYMENT. EB5 MONEY HAS BEEN USED TO FINANCE BAKERY SQUARE IN PITTSBURGH HOME OF GOOGLE ALSO UPMC EAST HOSPITAL IN MONROEVILLE EVEN THE MOVIES FILMED IN PITTSBURGH. ALSO THIS SHOPPING CENTER IN SOUTH FAYETTE THAT GOT $500,000 FROM A FAMILY OF A CHINESE COLLEGE STUDENT IN ARIZONA. AND ESTIMATED 200 JOBS WERE CREATED. THE FINANCING WAS BROKERED BY THE IDEA FOUND TREE IN OAKLAND WHICH RUNS AN EB5 CENTER. DOES THIS PROGRAM SEND THE MESSAGE THAT CITIZENSHIP IS FOR SALE? SHORT ANSWER THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE PROGRAM LOOKS LIKE. THE REALITY IS IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY, IT’S ABOUT THE CREATION OF THE JOBS, THAT’S THE ESSENTIAL COMPONENT. REPORTER: BUT THIS 2013 REPORT BY THE HOMELAND SECURITY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOUND U.S. CITIZENSHIP SHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES WAS UNABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THE BENEFITS OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT INTO THE U.S. ECONOMY FROM EB5 AND THE GOVERNMENT’S METHOD FOR CALCULATING JOBS AND ECONOMIC BENEFIT WAS NOT VALID ACCORDING TO THIS 2015 GOVERNMET ACCOUNTING OFFICE REPORT. DAVID NORTH OF THE CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES IN WASHINGTON D.C. IS AN EB A 5 CRITIC.>>YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO CREATE TEN JOBS FOR HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. HALF A MILLION DOLLARS IN THIS TOWN DOESN’T EVEN BUY YOU A HOUSE. REPORTER: WHILE THE PROGRAM WAS SUPPOSED TO BENEFIT IMPOVERISHED AREAS NORTH SAYS MOST OF THE MONEY GONE TO GLITZ SEE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENTS IN BIG CITIES INCLUDING THIS HIGHRISE IN NEW JERSEY OVERLOOKING MIDTOWN MANHATTAN WHOSE OWNERS INCLUDE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S SON-IN-LAW JARED KUSHNER. IT GOT $50 MILLION FROM CHINESE IMMIGRANTS IN THE EB5 PROGRAM.>>THERE ARE VERY RICH PEOPLE, POWERFUL PEOPLE PARTICULARLY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK WHO ARE MAKING OODLES ON THIS PROGRAM. REPORTER: THE PROGRAM HAS BEEN HIT WITH FRAUD ALLEGATIONS. THE OWNERS WERE ACCUSED OF THIS VERMONT SKI DEVELOPMENT OF MISUSING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THROUGH THE EB5 PROGRAM AND THERE HAVE BEEN MULTIPLE OTHER CASES.>>THERE ARE ENORMOUS OPPORTUNITIES FOR CORRUPTION OF ONE TIME ANOTHER OR CROOKED NECESSARY. REPORTER: THE SQUIRREL HILL RESTAURANT OWNER SAYS HE WAS ALSO A FRAUD VICTIM. HE SAYS A PITTSBURGH BROKER CONVINCED HIM TO PUT DOWN ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS TOWARD A MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT TO BUILD A HOTEL AND AN INDOOR WATER PARK IN OHIO? WHAT WAS HE PROMISING YOU IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR INVESTMENT?>>A GREEN CARD, AND SOME RETURN. REPORTER: BUT IN THIS LAWSUIT HE SAYS THE BROKER, PAUL LANG OF FORTUNE GROUP REALITY MADE FALSE AND MISLEADING STATEMENTS ABOUT THE PROJECT AND REFUSED TO REFUND HIS MONEY WHEN THE PROJECT WAS ABANDONED. THE LAWSUIT WAS SETTLED LAST YEAR. LANG AND HIS ATTORNEY DID NOT RETURN MULTIPLE CALLS FROM ACTION NEWS INVESTIGATES. HE EVENTUALLY GOT HIS GREEN CARD THROUGH ANOTHER EB5 INVESTMENT. LIKE MOST IMMIGRANTS, THESE PEOPLE COULD NOT AFFORD TO SPEND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS ON GREEN CARDS, SO RIGHT AFTER GETTING MARRIED THEY HAD TO SPLIT SPENDING TWO YEARS ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE WORLD. ONE IN PITTSBURGH AND ANDREA IN INDIA.>>WE LITERALLY WENT THROUGH THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF THE MARRIAGE ON SKYPE. IT WAS JUST TERRIBLE, IT WAS EMOTIONALLY DRAINING. REPORTER: HE DOES NOT THINK IT’S FAIR FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO GIVE PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO IMMIGRANTS JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE MONEY.>>BECAUSE GREEN CARD IS A GREEN CARD, AND IT SHOULD NOT BE THAT SOMEBODY WHO HAS THE MONEY IS ALLOWED TO JUMP THE LINE. REPORTER: A SPOKESPERSON FOR U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT TELLS ME THEY HAVE STRENGTHENED THE EB5 PROGRAM IN THE WAKE OF THE FRAUD AND ABUSE ALLEGATIONS. STILL LEGISLATION FILED LAST MONTH BY REPUBLICAN SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY AND DEMOCRAT

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