In some ironic timing, Jared Kushner's family business faces a subpoena on green cards just as the Trump administration begins a crusade to cut by half the number of legal immigrants seeking permanent residence in the United States.
On Wednesday, Trump came out in favor of the RAISE Act, a bill that aims to overhaul the immigration system based on family ties or via the diversity lottery. But meanwhile if you have $500,000, the Kushner family business would be happy to sell you property to get a green card — or at least that's what Jared Kushner's sister reportedly seemed to imply during an investor marketing push in China.
The subpoena, which was also first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, has to do with the EB-5 visa program that it used to finance some real estate projects in New Jersey. The subpoena was issued in May by the Brooklyn U.S. attorney after Kushner's sister visited China to tout the program. "Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States," a brochure from the event read, as reported in The Washington Post.
To truly understand the irony, you need to understand the EB-5 visa program. It's not exactly pay-for-play, but the rules are such that wealthy investors who create at least 10 jobs in rural or high-unemployment areas by investing at least half a million dollars can get what is dubbed by some a "golden visa." A $1 million investment elsewhere also works.
It's supposed to be an economic investment, but it has been plagued by fraud, according to a government report. It's not clear what exactly caused the subpoena or what rules may or may not have been violated. The Journal reported that the U.S. attorney requested documents including emails.
Emily Wolf, a lawyer for the Kushner business released a statement:
Kushner Companies utilized the program, fully complied with its rules and regulations and did nothing improper. We are cooperating with legal requests for information.
Trump presented his immigration plan as a way to better the economy (RAISE stands for Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment). The EB-5 visa program has a similar goal, to create American jobs.
Trump's plan, though, in addition to limiting immigration could have the opposite effect. Experts say that immigration actually boosts economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet done an assessment of the current bill, but a 2013 bipartisan immigration reform bill (one that would have increased legal immigration) would have grown the economy by more than 3 percent.
Whether or not the Kushner Companies followed all the rules, these recent developments shows the priorities at play. There's a choice between a just immigration program that unites families and provides opportunity to people of all sorts of backgrounds, or there's Trump's vision, which limits opportunity to those who have the "merit-based" points.
Add to it the Kushner's family business plan that would let the richest pay to come, too. That doesn't seem very American.