SF immigrants, advocates denounce fast-tracked green cards for the rich

SAN FRANCISCO – Dozens of immigrant workers and their advocates gathered in San Francisco Tuesday morning to protest the renewal of a controversial program to fast-track green cards for wealthy foreign investors.

The EB-5 is a federal program that gives immigrants the opportunity to obtain green cards for themselves and their family members if they invest $500,000 in projects approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office.

People at this rally say it is unfair that only those with money can bypass the long wait towards getting legal status.

“Congress has failed to pass meaningful immigration reform year after year,” said Anand Singh who is the Unite Here Local 2 president. “In the mean time you have this program EB-5 where you can pay to play if you have a half-million-dollars to put down you’re fast tracked to legal status that’s not real immigration reform, it’s not meaningful or common sense immigration reform. It’s immigration reform for the one percent.”

The demonstration took place in front of the Renoir Hotel whose owner, Kor Group, is a major beneficiary of the EB-5 program.

Local 2 represents 12,000 hotel workers, many whom are Filipino, from San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

They say that Kor Group has refused to guarantee that its workers can join a union to protect themselves from income inequality and other forms of abuses.

“The workers of this hotel, who will likely be immigrant workers possibly Filipino, Chinese, or Latino immigrant workers, won’t have any guarantee of good paying jobs with benefits,” said Singh.

Balitang America attempted to contact Kor Group in response to the rally but were unable to reach them at this time.

Meanwhile the hotel is set to open in 2016 and Congress is expected to renew the EB-5 program in September.

4 Comments on this post.

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  • Mario
    26 August 2015 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    I am in favor on the EB-5 program (investment Visa) , at least they are giving jobs to mostly Filipinos,Hispanic and Chinese workers. Democrat activist from Local 2 is not happy because workers does not want to join the union. Car manufacturing, Hospitals, and many more, shut down because of the Union. The Union is the biggest donors to Democrat politicians during election. Smart move for the Hotel owners and employees for not joining the union.

  • noz
    28 August 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    the EB-5 is not by all means a fast-tracked as the title of the article suggested. the paperworks are extensive, and complicated, that the USCIS requires legal counseling both on the business aspect / processing of visas for the would be investors. the risks of investment loss as in all types of businesses are not guaranteed. the issuance of green cards are provisional for 2 years, which take 6 years or more to qualify. USCIS are monitoring the success in job creations / business expansions of the EB-5 visa holders, and with such monitoring, abuse of the EB-5 program are easily pick up by USCIS.

  • Sam Agarwal
    1 September 2015 at 8:06 am - Reply

    It seems that the EB-5 Program is a fast track to FRAUD and often investors can lose their money and their chance at a green card. Take for instance the fact that the SEC has stated that they are currently investigating 25 EB-5 Regional Centers for fraud – 25!!! That is a very large percentage of the companies in existence!! These seem to be big frauds, too. Chicago Convention Center was something like $147 Million and the Potala Tower fraud is reported at greater than $125 Million.

  • Sam Agarwal
    1 September 2015 at 8:07 am - Reply

    See the most recent stories in the Seattle Times. Search for Lobsang Dargey or Path America.