The details are very simple: Jared Kushner’s sister, seeking to finance a New Jersey luxury apartment project that Jared himself once managed until the joined the White House staff, needed more cash for the project. So as Jared Kushner and Crooked Donald have both done in the past, they used immigration to boost their bottom lines.
Thus, the Kushner family promised rich Chinese tycoons American citizenship for money.
I’m not kidding, they promised potential investors that if they forked over at least $500,000 to the Kushner/Trump bankroll, they could become citizens! And it worked: in the last few years, Jared Kushner and his family—using Donald Trump’s name with his permission—the Kushner family raised $50 million for the luxury apartments.
As unbelievable as that sounds, it is all perfectly legal under the flawed EB-5 visa program. Created created during the first George Bush administration in 1990, the program was supposed to encourage foreign investment in designated “Targeted Employment Areas,” or rural and urban areas with high unemployment by allowing qualified foreign nationals who invested at least $500,000 that “created at least 10 jobs for a sustained period” to earn an automatic two-year Green Card and after the two years were up, a possible Green Card extension or even citizenship.
But by 2005, the second George Bush administration learned almost no one was using these visas because the application process was so complicated so they “simplified” the process, which apparently meant “anything goes for rich foreigners.”
After the W-Bush “reforms,” the EB-5 earned a new nickname, the “Golden Visa,” because: 1) State officials now had more latitude to seek EB-5 status, so there was more corruption, most notably in South Dakota where the Governor’s friends openly sold citizenships and skimmed taxpayer dollars but created no jobs—despite great reporting by the local press, the Governor and Attorney General were able to cover most of it up until he was safely re-elected. 2) Real estate developers who wanted to gentrify urban properties figured out that an exchange rate of $500,000 to hire ten minimum wage workers from two blocks away was an easy pitch to foreign investors, leading to… 3) Middle Eastern and especially Chinese investors putting up big bucks for Golden Visas to become citizens to enter the U.S. market.
Which brings to the current controversy. After already banking $50 million through Green Card promises, the Kushner organization hired a Chinese company, Qiaowai, who produced a brochure promising “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States” to pitch additional prospects.
During the Beijing sales pitch, Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s sister and partner, would never mentioned Trump by name but in her power point, she used Crooked D’s picture in her Powerpoint presentation and pointedly told potential investors: “In 2008, my brother Jared Kushner joined the family company as CEO, and recently moved to Washington to join the administration.”
Luckily reporters where there when the pitch was made, though organizers tried to throw them out. But as one later tweeted, he was told there might be several other Kushner “cash for citizenship” presentations in China no one knows about—and because Jared Kusher formally resigned from the company, there will be no disclosure or oversight.
To be fair, while Crooked D loaned his name to his son-in-law’s project, he doesn’t directly benefit from the Golden Visa program—Trump prefers making money off visa programs allowing him to hire over a thousand foreign minimum wage workers at his properties to displace American workers. (That is all true, you can read about it by clicking here and here.)
And as you might expect, when this Kushner “cash for citizenship” scandal hit, the Trump administration was quick to blame the Obama administration. While it is true the Obama administration reacted slowly after the South Dakota Golden Visa scandal of 2014, they did eventually make two recommendations to the Republicans in Congress. The first was to raise the price from $500,000 to $1.3 million, require more jobs be created for a longer duration for an investor to be eligible for a Green Card and restrict or eliminate real estate development from the program.
The second option offered by the Obama administration, was much simpler—the EB-5 program was set to expire on December 31st, 2016 and the incoming President-Elect promised to restrict immigration, so Team Obama suggested Congress could just kill it off. Except Congress decided to fully restore Golden Visas in last December’s budget and just last week, Congress restored them again until at least October (the Kushner scandal broke the day after Trump signed the bill protecting the Golden Visa.)
We wanted you to have this background because this story of Trump’s making cash off of immigration or selling citizenships is far from over—only it is Jared Kushner in the hot seat and there is a lot we still don’t know about Jared.