A federal immigration program lets rich foreign families come to the United States and stay, as long as they invest $500,000 in job-creating economic development and pass background checks.
The visa-for-cash program is supposed to help down-on-their-heels areas where banks and U.S. citizens might be reluctant to invest, and its promoters say it paid off wildly in cities like Cleveland -- and helped about 1,500 foreigners who invested in the area, mostly living in China at the time, get two-year visas or permanent residency in the United States.
But it's also helped fund upscale developments like shopping centers with Apple stores, Hyatt hotels and offices in relatively affluent places like Westlake and midtown Manhattan. The family of Jared Kushner, son-in-law and adviser to President Donald Trump, used the program to attract $100 million from Asian investors for a 50-story luxury apartment building, Trump Bay Street, in Jersey City, N.J. Trump's name is on the building but he is not an owner.
The program has had scandals and abuses, from a San Francisco ponzi scheme that defrauded investors, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, to developers accused of pocketing Chinese families' money in northern Vermont.
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