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OPINION

Trump’s Merit Based Immigration Can Focus on Investment in America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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President Trump wants to reform immigration to be based on merit, rather than lotteries, anchor babies, and chains of poor, unskilled, uneducated relatives, all with their hands out asking for public assistance from American taxpayers. Merit means immigration based on what the immigrant can bring to, rather than take from, America.

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President John F. Kennedy, the last great Democrat, articulated the policy well in his 1961 Inaugural address, when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Trump’s vision is to apply this principle to those who are seeking to emigrate to America. 

There is one immigration provision that already follows Trump’s merit-based immigration vision, the EB-5 visa program. That provision of current law provides 10,000 visas a year to foreign investors who are willing to invest half a million in state designated distressed areas creating at least 10 new jobs for American workers, or $1 million creating jobs anywhere in America.

Instead of letting waves of unskilled, uneducated poor foreigners in to compete with domestic American workers, driving their wages down, the EB-5 visa program would let in waves of investment capital to hire domestic American workers, bidding their wages up. That follows perfectly Trump’s vision to Make America Great Again.

But on his way out the door, anti-business President Obama tried to sabotage the EB-5 visa program, proposing regulations in January 2017 to increase the minimum required investment for the visas. Even immigrants with a million dollars to invest in America couldn’t qualify for entry into the United States. True to form, Obama preferred entry for unskilled, uneducated, immigrants without much to contribute to America.

That is the fundamental problem of the socialist Democrats today, who don’t understand how to create jobs and rising wages, unlike President Kennedy who created a jobs and wages boom in the 1960s. SenatorsRand Paul (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote a letter to the incoming Trump Administration opposing these midnight Obama regulations, seeking deference to Congress on the issue.

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But now the Trump bureaucracy is inexplicably moving ahead with the Obama anti-business regulations, as the bureaucrats fail to understand President Trump’s merit-based immigration. Under the new proposed rules, the investment thresholds for EB-5 visas would be raised to $1.35 million for distressed areas, and $1.8 million for any investment creating jobs in America. Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, Chief of the Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that the Trump Administration wants to get this Obama era regulation done this year.

The power grabbing federal bureaucrats at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Homeland Security also propose to seize from the states the authority to designate which areas would be labelled as distressed, as if federal bureaucrats would know better than state and local officials which areas in their states are distressed and most in need of new capital investment.

Lawyers, venture capitalists and real estate developers think this new regulation would kill the EB-5 investment program. Bureaucrats and Democrats do not understand how Trump’s policies of tax cuts and deregulation worked so well to restore booming economic growth to America, after years of Obama’s secular stagnation and “new normal” of no growth. This is why Trump needs to be reelected in 2020, because only he understands how it is done.

American Action Forum (AAF) reports that through these EB-5 immigrants, $20 billion has been invested in the U.S. since 2008, over $5 billion in 2017 alone. These investments have created 174,000 jobs, 16 jobs per each EB-5 immigrant investor.  

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Rather than restricting EB-5, President Trump should expand it, for more jobs, capital investment, and higher wages. AAF estimates that increasing investor visas to 20,000 a year would increase U.S. GDP by $11 billion annually. Ending the Visa lottery program would free up 50,000 visas a year that could be devoted to the EB-5 investor program, increasing capital investment, jobs, and higher wages for American workers. Even more could come from ending chain migration.

These reforms would contribute mightily to changing immigration to the U.S. to a merits-based concept, focused on allowing immigrants to America who could contribute the most to America. 

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