Supporters of immigration reform are protesting against the controversial EB-5 US visa program, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego activists slamming it as “immigration reform for the 1%”. The program enables rich foreigners to invest between $500,000 and $1m in a US business and become eligible to get a green card if 10 or more jobs are created in America as a result.
As the Washington Post points out, “the program was barely used as recently as 2005, but it became a popular source of capital after the financial crisis. Last year a record 10,692 EB-5 visas were issued, according to the real estate services firm Savills.”
The program’s very existence has been described as “fundamentally unfair” by UNITE HERE, the union that represents over 270,000 North American airport, casino and hotel workers, as millions of immigrants continue to live in limbo due to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform in November 2014 still languishing in the courts. The vice-president of UNITE HERE, Maria Elena Durazo, says that immigration laws should be there to benefit everybody, “not just the 1%”.
Durazo adds that if Congress, which is getting ready to renew the US visa program next month, renews the EB-5 program, then it is effectively sending the very clear message that the American Dream is only for those who can afford it.