Feinstein: End EB-5 visa program to avoid Kushner conflict

Posted May 20, 2017

But the sister of Jared Kushner-Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser-is using her White House connections to lure Chinese investors to help fund a real estate project via a controversial visa program that in essence sells United States citizenship to wealthy foreigners.

Kushner's sister Nicole Kushner Meyer was in Beijing on Saturday, seeking US$150 million in investment, or 15.4 percent of funding for the project, in a luxury apartment complex project in New Jersey called One Journal Square, according to U.S. media reports.

Nicole Meyer, Kushner's sister, made the sales pitch on Saturday in Beijing to more than 100 Chinese investors, the New York Times reported. Promotional materials for the event also noted the Kushner family's "celebrity" status. "Of course they're going to want to invest".

Meyer said the project "means a lot to me and my entire family", mentioning specifically that her brother formerly headed the family business and left to serve in the Trump Administration.

Kushner Companies are also due to pitch for investment in the southern Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou next weekend, according to the QWOS website. The program has offered wealthy foreigners a way around complicated USA immigration rules, allowing them to live in the United States and seek permanent residency in return for substantial investments. And the sell in Beijing involved a controversial visa program known as EB-5.

But the most problematic aspect of this business pitch is the potential conflict of interest that it poses for Kushner, who now serves as a senior advisor to President Trump.

Trump, who advocates restrictive immigration policies, extended the EB-5 investor program without long-promised reforms as part of a massive federal spending bill.

The program, which has been around since 1990, is big business for developers like Kushner Companies, whose former CEO, Jared Kushner, is President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.

A Kushner Companies spokeswoman declined to comment in a New York Times article about the Beijing event published on Saturday.

If the Trump administration sees it through, lawmakers would have an opportunity to see the effects before taking any further legislative action.

Mr Kushner, 36, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, has far-reaching influence over domestic and foreign policy.

"It said the One Journal Square project would provide millions in tax revenue and bring in thousands of construction jobs to New Jersey", Kennedy continues.

Some of the changes include raising the threshold of money required to benefit from the program, from $500,000 to $1.35 million for the minimum level, and to tighten the requirements to qualify as a "Targeted Employment Area" - to ensure that such designations are reserved for areas that actually would benefit high unemployment areas. A 2013 Homeland Security Department investigation cited risks that Iranian intelligence operatives may have exploited the program, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services found numerous fraudulent documents when it audited a sampling of investors' green card applications.

EB-5 investment from China will account for around 15 percent of its total cost of US$976.4 million.

And Kushner's attorney said he has divested his interests in the project and will recuse himself from matters concerning EB-5. They were told by organizers that it was a "private event", despite it being publicly advertised.