By Angelique Brunner Kenric Ward’s “Inside the Beltway” contribution does not describe the EB-5 visa program that I know ("On Capitol Hill, It’s Business as Usual for Investor Visas ," Roll Call, Sept. 2). While he’s right to point out that the program has broad bipartisan backing, the reasons for that support are far less cynical than he would have you believe: simply put, EB-5 creates jobs and is transforming communities through the power of economic development. According to a 2014 Brookings Institute report, the program has created at least 85,000 jobs since its creation in 1990. A more recent analysis of the program from the EB-5 Investment Coalition (EB-5IC), a trade group of which I am a member, shows EB-5 generated $5.2 billion in private investment between 2005 and 2013 and created at least 31,000 jobs in 2013 alone without any investment from taxpayers.
In today’s economy, we cannot afford to lose such a prolific source of economic growth and job creation. That is why it is critically important that Congress act to reauthorize the program ahead of its Sept. 30 renewal deadline. There are currently three bills pending in Congress that would do so, all of which would also make targeted reforms to ensure an even stronger and more effective EB-5.
While the incidents of fraud and abuse alluded to in Mr. Ward’s piece represent only a small fraction of what is an otherwise very successful economic development program, rooting out bad actors is in the best interest of everyone. For this reason, the EB-5 Investment Coalition and other industry stakeholders have been working closely with members of Congress to develop a series of common sense reforms to ensure greater accountability and integrity in the program. At the very top of that list are measures that will strengthen government oversight to assure compliance with federal and state securities laws and new mechanisms for preventing, identifying and addressing cases of undue influence at the agency level.
Having been party to some of the guiding conversations on the Hill, I can assure you that there is an honest conversation underway among members of Congress trying to understand the best way to preserve the powerful job-creating benefits of this economic development program while strengthening it for future generations.
The isolated incidents described in Mr. Ward’s piece are a concern for all of us, but they are not representative of the overwhelming majority of investors, businesses, states and municipalities that have been effectively using EB-5 investments to stimulate economic growth across the entire country.. Rather, my colleagues and I are committed to promoting the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct and advancing smart policies that maintain maximum program integrity and effectiveness. People around the world continue to invest their hard-earned money in America’s investor visa program over those of other nations because they believe our ingenuity, entrepreneurship and integrity will deliver results. And as someone who has overseen a number of EB-5 funded projects in the D.C. area and beyond, I can assure you they do deliver.
Angelique (Angel) Brunner is the founder and president of EB5 Capital, and owns and operates a number of USCIS-authorized Regional Centers across the country.