Presidential senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner is taking heat after his sister pointed out to potential partners in China that an investment of $500,000 or more in the Kushner Companies' One Journal Square project in Jersey City, N.J., could grease the skids for permanent residency in the us under the EB-5 visa program.
The EB-5 visa program encourages wealthy foreign nationals to make substantial investments in US -based business ventures in exchange for a Green Card and a investor visa.
While Kushner Meyer didn't mention President Trump by name - although CNN Money noted that his picture appeared on a presentation slide listing "key decision makers" on the EB-5 program - she did talk about her brother's new job. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has been one of the leading voices sounding the alarm.
Kushner's personal attorney, Blake Roberts of the WilmerHale law firm, said in a statement that Kushner has "no involvement" in the operation of the Kushner Companies.
But Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, says, "The strong feeling is that they - the Trump family, the Kushner family - see the White House and being in the government as a marketing opportunity". Chinese investors willing to put up $500,000 could own a piece of the building - and get visas for themselves, their spouses, and their children under a US program know as EB-5.
Jared Kushner, to avoid business conflicts with his White House role, divested himself of parts of his family business as he assumed his White House role, including a connection with One Journal Square project in Jersey City, New Jersey that his sister was promoting.
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But wait, doesn't Donald Trump hate China nearly as much as he hates Mexican immigrants? He has called for the construction of a wall on the Mexican border, proposed that the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants be expelled, and called for a ban on many immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries.
It was a day after Trump signed the bill that Meyer made her presentation in Beijing in which she and her associates urged the Chinese to invest in the luxury apartment building, One Journal Square, which is slated to be built next year.
Chinese citizens have snapped up more than 80 percent of the visas issued under the program since 2011, according to Invest in the US, an industry association, and there's a huge backlog of applications. Then you run across the following ad: "Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States".
Potential investor Xing said a Kushner representative who spoke on Sunday stressed that EB-5 rules could change after September to raise the minimum required investment.
Seto Bagdoyan, who monitors the program at the Government Accountability Office, says problems with some foreign EB-5 investors have led to criminal investigations. Descriptions of the conference suggest that it was an event where Meyer was trying to persuade the room to get investor visas and provide a sizable amount of funding for two skyscraper projects in New Jersey. Steven Fulop, the city's mayor, announced in a Facebook post on Sunday that he opposes Kushner Companies' request for a tax abatement.
Michael Short, a White House spokesman, said in an email in mid-April that the EB-5 program needs "substantial fix".