Who knew? While some members of Congress are fuming about immigration across our southern border, the US is opening the gates to other folks, primarily from China. Over the past few years nearly 48 million of that nation’s wealthiest citizens have migrated to other countries, including the United States, and another 64% have plans to emigrate. (Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal, by The Week, 8/28/14, pg. 16.) Many who enter this country do so on a program called EB-5. Recently 3 US billionaires supported EB-5 with an op-ed in The New York Times: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Sheldon Adelson. They argued EB-5 creates jobs. That’s because one provision of the law requires each immigrant to make a $500,000 investment in our economy. (Citizenship for Sale,” by Peter Elkind/ Marty Jones, Fortune Magazine, August 11, 2014, page 52.)
EB-5 enjoys bi-partisan support but, according to authors Peter Elkind and Marty Jones, the program is unregulated and too many of these well-heeled investors have “become a magnet for amateurs, pipe-dreamers and charlatans.” (Ibid. pg. 52) So far, the federal government has failed to regulate the system, possibly because these new arrivals aren’t citizens and don’t vote. Welcome to America, sucker.
That foreigners are lured to our country for their money, then treated with indifference should incense those of us who feel pride that we are a nation founded by emigrants. But there is a greater ethical question to consider. Should US citizenship be for sale? The billionaires seem to think so and want to lift the cap on EB-5 emigrant numbers.
I say, not so fast. A better way to infuse money into our economy is to stop inversions (Blog 8/28/14) and change the tax laws as Joseph Stiglitz, Noble Prize Economist, suggests. (Blog 10/2/14) Even Warren Buffet admits he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Let him buy an ad in The New York Times to advocate for higher taxes on the super wealthy rather than promote the sale of US citizenship.
But since we’re talking about emigration, here’s another idea. Let’s welcome the children crossing our southern borders. America has an aging population. These young hearts and minds, eager to settle in this country and learn new skill, are a future boon to our economy. Call it a long term investment, with costs offset by reforming the tax code so that the super rich pay their fair share. So much incoming cash, we enable us to lay out the welcome mat for the young who, one day, will contribute to America’s future.
(Courtesy of maryturck.wordpress.com)