Schubart: EB-5

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(Host) Commentator Bill Schubart has been watching Vermont’s deployment
of the federal EB-5 program in Northern Vermont and, while he admires
its projected economic impact, he wonders about its broader strategy in
enriching America.

(Schubart) The legal underpinning driving the
planned economic renaissance in Northern Vermont is called the
"Immigrant Investor Program" or EB-5 program. The federal program offers
green cards to wealthy foreigners willing to pay half a million dollars
to invest in designated "regional centers." The State of Vermont is the
only such center in the country run entirely by a state for a state
with the Agency of Commerce administering the program. Statutes require
that each investment show that ten new jobs will be created (quote)
"directly or indirectly, using statistically valid forecasting." (end
quote) The program’s intent is to attract foreign investment capital
into job-creating opportunities in exchange for immediate green cards
for the investor and his family. Program investments are currently
focused on economic development in Northern Vermont, where it is badly

While two of the most divisive topics in the country
today are immigration and the increasing polarization of wealth, the
EB-5 program is hailed by conservatives and liberals alike as an
innovative jobs creation program. And apart from a recent op-ed in US
News by adjunct professor John Vogel at Dartmouth’s Tuck School, there
has been remarkably little discussion at the intersection of these three

Jobs are not created by capital per se; but by
innovation and entrepreneurship. Capital is just the tool that
actualizes the innovation. And if that’s true, I wonder if we should be
selling green cards only to the rich in foreign countries, some of whom
may have earned their wealth corruptly or simply inherited it.

might also be obligated morally to consider the parents and spouses of
US citizens being deported in greater numbers than ever before or
detained in deplorable conditions. We use and then deport the hard
working "illegals" that do all the jobs we won’t do, like milking our
cows, picking our fruit, raising our kids, and cleaning our toilets. The
INS costs more tax dollars than all other law enforcement agencies
combined, and our porous borders remain just that.

It seems
questionable to only be adding the rich and their money to our
citizenship rolls. Many of the great American industrialists arrived
penniless from abroad and created employment from little more than ideas
and retained earnings. We also benefit from the foreign engineering
graduate, budding scientist, entrepreneur, concert pianist, and medical
researcher. I think it’s shortsighted to always start with money – and
only money.

There is no question that Northern Vermont has
benefited from this influx of revenue from selling green cards. But we
should also be thinking more broadly about how we want to grow our
country. Selling green cards to rich people may be one way. But
deporting poor people only exacerbates the polarity of wealth.

I researched the EB-5 program, I was immediately reminded of the
Reformation and why Martin Luther set out to reform the Catholic Church
that had so enriched itself and its leaders through the sale of plenary
indulgences – but only to the few who could afford them.

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