At the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration since Congress reconvened in January, the subject was not President Trump’s executive orders or recent deportation crackdowns, but instead the EB-5 investor visa, a 25-year-old pilot program that has become a pet fundraising vehicle for real estate developers.
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) joined members of the committee Wednesday to testify on program reform, urging Congress to make major changes that would push EB-5 money into more underserved communities rather than luxury projects in affluent urban neighborhoods.
Both Grassley and Leahy’s testimony cited an uptick in fraud and abuse in EB-5, a program that has enjoyed incredible popularity in recent years as a key means for New York developers to source highly sought after mezzanine debt in their capital stack. The senators decried what they said was a disproportionately small share of EB-5 money going into projects in areas with high unemployment, in part due to the control regional centers have had over “gerrymandering” those areas.
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