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20 May 2017, 03:29 | Darnell Patrick
Nicole Meyer, Jared Kushner's sister, spent her Saturday in Beijing trying to secure investments for a building going up in Jersey City, and part of the sales pitch involved highlighting the Kushner family, which just so happens to be an integral part of the current administration. Through what's known as the EB-5 Investor Visa Program, foreign nationals from China and elsewhere can get on a path to U.S. citizenship after investing as little as $500,000 in real estate and other projects in the U.S. Muzaffar Chishti with the Migration Policy Institute explains.
The developers are seeking to raise US$150 million, or 15.4 per cent of funding for the project, One Journal Square, from investors through the EB-5 visa programme, according to marketing materials posted by the event's organiser, immigration agency Qiaowai. Chinese investors filled a ballroom to listen to Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer.
GreenTech Automotive, the electric vehicle manufacturer co-founded by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe - funded in-part by EB-5 visas granted to Chinese investors, and pushed through the politically-driven approval process by Tony Rodham, Hillary Clinton's brother - failed to make its first payment on a $3 million loan from the state of Mississippi.
"Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of [Jared Kushner] was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors", the company said in an official statement.
Jared Kushner's father-in-law, Donald Trump, popped up once during the presentation, described as a "key decision maker" about the future of the EB-5 program.
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At the event, Emily Rauhala, a Beijing-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was seated apart from her colleague, who faced similar resistance from the hosts.
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein says it should be nixed, arguing the program sends a message that visas and USA citizenship are for sale. He stepped down from the family company in January to serve in the administration.
The investor visa program was designed to entice overseas investors to put $500,000 into projects, mainly in higher-unemployment areas, creating at least 10 jobs, or $1 million in wealthier areas.
Those apartments were also developed by Kushner Companies, and about a quarter of the funding - around US$50 million - was obtained via EB-5 investment, according to a report by Bloomberg News a year ago.
Kushner Companies has already benefited from the EB-5 visa program, taking in $50 million in investments to complete a 50-story, Trump-branded apartment complex in Jersey City, N.J.
A White House spokesman said the administration would work with Congress to evaluate "wholesale reform" of the program, which might include "raising the price of the visa".
Organizers of the investor meeting didn't seem to want reporters there.
(Answer: They can't.) The only way to stop the conflict might be to stop the EB-5 program altogether, as Sen.
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