Trump-branded build­ing gets Chi­nese boost

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump, who has bashed im­mi­grants and China in the US pres­i­den­tial race, is lend­ing his brand to a build­ing partly fi­nanced by a visa pro­gram that mainly ben­e­fits wealthy Chi­nese in­vestors.

Me­dia re­ports say that Trump Bay Street, a lux­ury rental apart­ment build­ing be­ing built in Jersey City, New Jersey, is be­ing funded in part through the fed­eral EB-5 visa pro­gram.

Cre­ated in 1990 to help stim­u­late the US econ­omy through job cre­ation and for­eign in­vest­ment, im­mi­grants who in­vest a min­i­mum of $1 mil­lion — or $500,000 in lowem­ploy­ment or ru­ral ar­eas, and cre­ate at least 10 full-time jobs through the pro­ject they are fund­ing be­come el­i­gi­ble for US res­i­dency.

“In­vestors from China cur­rently ac­count for al­most 90 per­cent of all EB-5 in­vestors,” Stephen Yale-Loehr, a law pro­fes­sor at Cor­nell Univer­sity, told China Daily.

Trump Bay Street is be­ing de­vel­oped by the Kush­ner Com­pa­nies, whose chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Jared Kush­ner, is mar­ried to Trump’s daugh­ter Ivanka. Trump has li­censed his name to the pro­ject, ac­cord­ing to news re­ports.

A Trump spokes­woman told Bloomberg in an e-mail, “This was a highly suc­cess­ful li­cense deal, but he is not a part­ner in the fi­nanc­ing of the de­vel­op­ment.” She did not re­spond to ques­tions about EB-5. A Kush­ner spokes­woman said the pro­ject was le­gal and cre­at­ing jobs, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

CNN re­ported that US Im­mi­gra­tion Fund, a pri­vate firm that so­lic­its for­eign in­vestors for EB-5 projects, con­firmed 100 Chi­nese in­vestors in the pro­ject.

EB-5 fi­nanc­ing is com­mon in large com­mer­cial projects like the Hud­son Yards de­vel­op­ment in New York City, the Sil­ver­stein World Trade Cen­ter 2 build­ing in New York, and the Cen­tury Plaza ho­tel in Los An­ge­les.

Orig­i­nally, few peo­ple im­mi­grated to the US us­ing EB-5. As late as 2008, only 1,000 peo­ple a year came in through the pro­gram, said Yale-Loehr. How­ever, the fi­nan­cial cri­sis re­sulted in the loss of do­mes­tic lend­ing sources for many US de­vel­op­ers, who dis­cov­ered the EB-5 pro­gram as a fi­nanc­ing ve­hi­cle.

In 2014, 10,000 took ad­van­tage of the EB-5 pro­gram, YaleLoehr noted.

Congress con­sid­ered mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes to the pro­gram in 2015, but in­stead ex­tended the EB-5 re­gional cen­ter pro­gram un­til Sept 30, 2016.

EB-5 has be­come con­tro­ver­sial, as the Govern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice, the in­ves­tiga­tive arm of Congress, found last year that many EB-5 ap­pli­ca­tions con­tained a high risk of fraud. The GAO also dis­cov­ered coun­ter­feit doc­u­men­ta­tion.

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