I have championed the EB-5 Regional Center program for many years. I have done so because I have seen its ability to generate investment and create jobs in distressed communities. But the program is facing some pressing challenges. Reports of rampant fraud and abuse raise serious concerns and threaten to cripple the program’s integrity. The incentives Congress established to invest in high unemployment and rural communities are also routinely abused, undermining a core objective of the program—to spur growth and create jobs in underserved areas. The Regional Center program is set to expire on December 11. It should be reauthorized, but we should not extend it blindly. There is bipartisan consensus that the program is in dire need of reform, and we cannot squander this opportunity.
I have long sought reforms to the Regional Center program. Last Congress, my EB-5 amendment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform provided the Department of Homeland Security additional authority to revoke suspect regional center designations or immigrant petitions. It also provided for increased reporting, background checks, and securities oversight. My amendment was unanimously approved in the Judiciary Committee, but unfortunately the improvements it contained have all had to wait, as the House of Representatives failed to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last Congress.
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