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Immigration Reform: Mayor Bloomberg’s Green-Card-for-Investors Idea is Already Law … Update

28 June 2010 2 Comments

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg might want to retool some of his immigration reform initiatives within his new national coalition, the Partnership for a New American Economy, and team up with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to tell the federal government to “do their job.”


Because the Mayor’s idea to give immigrant investors green cards to create jobs for Americans already exists. It’s called the EB-5 category for Immigrant Investors. In fact, the EB-5 has been on the books since 1990—that’s twenty years. The problem is the federal government-run United States Citizenship & Immigration Services’ (USCIS) inability to competently process applications.

It was last week when Mayor Bloomberg said on Fox News that he had suggested to the Obama Administration, “You say to immigrants who have money, and are entrepreneurs from around the world, ‘Come to America. We will give you a Green Card. If you start a business here and employ ten or more Americans, and as long as they are still working– you keep your Green Card.’ It matches our needs with their needs and everyone benefits.”

According to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services:

The fifth employment based visa preference [EB-5 Immigrant Investor
Category], created by Congress in 1990, is available to immigrants seeking to enter the United States in order to invest in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the US economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs…
Acquiring lawful permanent residence (“Green Card”) through the EB-5 category is a three step self-petitioning process…

To read more about EB-5 click here.

It’s unfortunate the Obama Administration didn’t have the courtesy to inform Mayor Bloomberg that his great idea was already on the books before he spoke publically about it.

So what’s the problem for immigrant investors trying to create American jobs? Borrowing from James Carville, it’s the government-run immigration agency, the USCIS, stupid.

According to the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS) 2009 Annual Report to Congress:

… Congress allocated approximately 10,000 immigrant visas per year to this category to make the program an important job creating engine for the United States. However, EB-5 usage rarely has exceeded 1,000 per year. EB-5 underutilization is caused by a confluence of factors, including program instability…

This is extraordinary considering as Senator John McCain noted during his failed 2008 Presidential bid that legal immigrants can be stuck in grueling backlogs for “20 years,” waiting to find out whether or not they have been approved to live in America. It takes a mindboggling level of ineptness for this $2.6 billion agency, the USCIS, to repeatedly fail to fill this precious job creating quota because they cannot process applications competently.

But there is more Mayor Bloomberg and his highly respected coalition members comprised of top CEOs should know. From p. 55 of the 119-page 2009 CIS report:

Recommendation (to improve EB-5)
1: Finalize regulations to implement the special 2002 EB-5 legislation offering certain EB-5 investors a pathway to cure deficiencies in their previously submitted petitions. The Ombudsman understands that proposed regulations have been drafted, but have been stalled in USCIS’ internal rulemaking review process. As these regulations have been in the drafting and review process for over six years, they are long overdue…

And then there is this from p. 12:

USCIS document production and mailing processes have raised concerns, as there is no mechanism by which to track delivery of USCIS documents to ensure receipt by the proper recipient. Last year, the Ombudsman highlighted some of the issues that may arise from delivery problems, including lost or stolen documents and unnecessary delays…

Welcome to legal immigration in America. It’s a nifty sound bite but for countless lawful immigrants who sought America’s dream–legally, it has been a cruel nightmare or an exercise in futility.

Moreover, the system becomes more and more anti-legal immigration by the day. For those who were able to obtain status, for example, now the agency is kicking out lawful business owner immigrants, like this British couple who ran a restaurant since 2000.

Clearly Mayor Bloomberg, a wildly successful billionaire businessman, would have to agree that a private company with those problems would have been out of business years ago. Meanwhile, should it become law, the USCIS is the agency tasked to process a path to legal status for 12-20 million illegal aliens. That’s another one of Mayor Bloomberg’s immigration reform initiatives.

The dirty secret Washington politicians don’t want people to know is how the immigration crisis, a federal-government made disaster, occurred under both Republican and Democrat leadership when they abdicated their obligation to secure the borders and run a competent immigration agency. Mayor Bloomberg’s idea for investor immigrants was a good idea. It’s too bad the USCIS failed to implement it competently.

Update: Mayor Bloomberg will attend President Obama’s speech on immigration at the White House on Thursday.