The plight of undocumented immigrants who are poor and working class get the headlines, but did you know that for upper-middle-class and wealthy people, Green Cards (aka resident alien visas) are sold for $500,000, or even less?
It's the same old story - the poor laborers get screwed, but the rich get whatever they want.
Consider the city of Perris, CA. http://www.einpresswire.com/article/303744590/eb-5-tea-zones-city-of-perris-the-perfect-location
For $500,000 in Perris a foreign investor can purchase a Green Card. They money is used to create jobs, and then the investor can bring over his or her children and send them to college, paying resident tuition. The savings in tuition could be over $20,000 per student. If they have two kids, that's $160,000 over four years.
Not only that, but as an investor, they will own either the property they developed, or a share of an EB-5 investment fund which owns a much larger project, like a shopping mall. They can eventually sell their investment at a profit.
## EB-5 and Gentrification
The city of Arcadia is well known in Los Angeles for being the site of extreme "mansionization". Likewise, the neighborhood of Fairfax is facing an intense wave of mansionization.
In both places, the money is coming from foreign sources. In Arcadia, the money is from Taiwan. In Fairfax, the money is from Israel. What these buyers do is buy a house, tear it down, and rebuild. This creates the 10 jobs necessary to qualify for an EB-5.
At the same time, by eliminating middle-class housing, these investors are starting the process of turning the neighborhood into an area only for wealthy people, thus raising prices for all the land. Then, they can turn around and sell the property for more money.
## Targeted Employment Area (TEAs)
A TEA is a designated area with high unemployment. 150% of the national rate is the rule. When an area is designated TEA, the price for the Green Card drops from $1 million to $500,000.
The problem with TEA is that there's no law that says the developers must hire people from the TEA. So the poor people who are being used to create the TEA don't benefit from it.
This page lists TEA rules and a list of areas: http://business.ca.gov/International/EB5Program.aspx
Most of CA's Central Valley is included. Cities in Los Angeles County include:
Baldwin Park, Bell, Bell Gardens, Carson, Commerce, Compton, Covina, Cudahy, Desert View Highlands, East LA, East Rancho Dominguez (aka, Compton), El Monte, Green Valley, Hasley Canyon, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Irwindale, Lake Hughes, Lake LA, Lynwood, Palmdale, Paramount, Quartz Hill, Rosemead, San Fernando, Santa Fe Springs, South Gate, Sun Village, Val Verde, Walnut Park, West Covina, West Puente Valley, West Rancho Dominguez, West Whittier, Westmont, and Willowbrook.
There are also some questionable locations like Isla Vista, which is in Santa Barbara next to UCSB, Camp Pendleton, Moskowite Corner in Napa, Marin City, and UC Davis.
## Regional Centers
The EB-5 program was created with another program called "Regional Centers". Regional centers are basically investment trusts. Multiple investors put money into the company, which then uses the money for development projects. There are over 180 regional centers in California.
Regional centers take the investor money, fund the projects, and then after some years, pay the money back to the investor. So this Green Card doesn't really "cost" the full amount. Rather, it costs what they lost out on in investments while the money was tied up. It's thousands of dollars, but that's not too expensive.
One of L.A.'s regional centers lists their track record of helping rich people get richer, *and* get a green card. http://www.canamenterprises.com/about-us/track-record.html
As you can see, they tend to invest in projects that are low risk, but in TEA areas. At that scale, they aren't really "projects" as much as loans to corporations, with a very low risk of failure.
The EB-5 program is sold as a way to attract "immigrant entrepreneurs" and you imagine some guy operating a sweatshop or a liquor store; the reality is that it's just rich people loaning money to Sony or Time Warner.