Capitol Hill controversy puts EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in national spotlight

first_imgby Hilary Niles July 26, 2013 vtdigger.org Controversy on Capitol Hill this week shined a national spotlight on one of Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s signature economic development initiatives ‘a program that plays a key role in Vermont’s business strategy.Monday, the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General revealed to a lawmaker an ongoing investigation into Alejandro Mayorkas. The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the No. 2 position at the Department of Homeland Security.Alejandro Mayorkas being sworn in as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in 2009. Photo courtesy USCISMayorkas, a tip from an FBI analyst alleged, had helped secure approval for a visa for someone whose application had previously been denied once, then again on appeal. The visa application was filed through the federal Immigrant Investor Program, also called ‘EB-5’for the type of visa it affords.Further allegations implicated Mayorkas in mismanagement of the EB-5 program, and extended to other USCIS officials suspected of obstructing a program audit by the Securities and Exchange Commission.In a letter to a staffer for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Inspector General’s Office indicated that the preliminary investigation had found no criminal activity, but it also referenced a separate, ongoing audit of the EB-5 program that was in its ‘final stages.’Leahy is in the process of pushing Congress to make EB-5 permanent after 20 years in a pilot stage. The program ‘until Monday ‘had remained fairly obscure by national standards, despite a recent spike in use. But in Vermont, EB-5 plays a prominent role.Concerns and counter-accusationsFor Grassley and other Republicans who have responded most strongly to news of the Mayorkas investigation, the allegations underlie potential national security risks.Some FBI facilities had been constructed, at least in part, using EB-5 funding from Chinese investors. One Chinese technology company suspected of espionage had applied for EB-5 status. And if a high-ranking immigration official was suspected of skirting visa protocols for one applicant, it follows that a similar breach could have occurred with others.But many observers dismissed the controversy as optimally timed political shenanigans.Not only would allegations against Mayorkas potentially freeze his confirmation hearing for the Homeland Security post, but the specific visa he was accused of finagling happened to be for a client of Anthony Rodham, brother of former Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. And the business to which that investor wanted to give money was a firm associated with former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, a candidate in Virginia’s high-profile gubernatorial race.Leahy’s spokesman David Carle said it’s highly unusual for an inspector general to publicize the nature of an investigation before it’s complete.The timing of the leak about the investigation ‘just days before Mayorkas was to receive a Senate confirmation hearing for his Homeland Security nomination ‘heightened some sources’suspicions that the allegations were politically motivated.Mayorkas did get a hearing Thursday with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as scheduled. Not a single Republican senator attended, however. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) helped lead a Republican boycott in protest, on the principle that a hearing should not be conducted for a man under investigation.The Inspector General’s Office did not respond to a press inquiry, and Leahy’s office said he would not issue a statement about an ongoing investigation.U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., at the inauguration of Gov. Peter Shumlin on Jan. 10. Photo by Roger CrowleyCarle, the spokesman for Leahy, did say, however, ‘Congress is moving forward on EB-5 reforms to improve oversight and administration of the program.’Leahy’s proposal to make the Immigrant Investor Program permanent, along with new anti-fraud and oversight measures, is tied to the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently making its way through Congress. The program was initially approved for a 10-year period, and since then has undergone reauthorization every three years.Immigrant investment in VermontVermont’s EB-5 director, Brent Raymond, said he’s already seen improvements to the federal program in Mayorkas’short time at the helm of the state-run regional center.Vermont’s EB-5 program is designed to be a significant gear in the state’s economic development engine. Nearly the entire state qualifies for EB-5 investment ‘a process whereby immigrants can earn green cards by investing $500,000 in American businesses, so long as the investment creates at least 10 jobs in two years.A set of ongoing projects in the Northeast Kingdom is estimated to draw $600 million in foreign investment to the business plans of Jay Peak ski resort owners Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros. The two plan to expand operations at Burke Mountain, another ski resort they recently acquired, and develop a biomedical research park, a waterfront hotel and conference center and a mixed-use block near the Canadian border in Newport, Vt.EB-5 also is a point of pride for Vermont, which is the only state government that wholly operates the investment program; most are run by private investment firms. Leahy often points out that Vermont’s EB-5 Regional Center is a ‘gold standard’nationwide.That’s not to say its been without its kinks. The Vermont EB-5 Regional Center this spring repealed its earlier approval for a resort-style retirement development, over concerns that some of the information in the application could not be verified.The strength of recipient investment businesses, Raymond explained, is crucial to the program’s overall success. Visa applications from immigrant investors can be denied not just for personal reasons, such as suspicion of criminal activity or affiliation with the Communist Party. The businesses in which immigrants invest also must be legitimate and poised for success.Raymond said his office vets the businesses in Vermont’s EB-5 program, but the federal immigration office has final say over whether the investments are credible and conform to all requirements. The business plans are reviewed not just once, but every time an immigrant applies for a visa on the basis of investing in that business.In the past, these reviews have been less than consistent.‘You could have 10 investors approved for the same project, but the 11th might not be,’Raymond said. ‘Not because of anything about the individual as a national security threat, or funds obtained through criminal activity. But all the sudden somebody’s questioning something â ¦ about the business plan that previously had been fine.’Raymond said he’s pleased that the review process ‘which he considers EB-5’s most significant, because it affects not just the investor but also the investment projects ‘has been streamlined under Mayorkas’s tenure. The reviews have become ‘more predictable,’he said.It’s that type of progress, and further improvements Raymond believes will come from Leahy’s proposals, that leave him feeling confident in the program’s future, despite the current controversy surrounding it.‘I think for EB-5 and the Vermont Regional Center, long term it will have no effect on the program,’he said.The fate of Leahy’s EB-5 amendments on the immigration reform bill, however, remains to be seen. The EB-5 program was last reauthorized in September 2012, leaving a little more than two years before it would expire or come up for another approval.last_img read more

Sharp Adds IoT Dashboard, Synappx, for Its Windows Collaboration Display Users

first_imgSharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA) launched Synappx WorkSpaces. Synappx WorkSpaces enhances the functionality of the Windows collaboration display (WCD) from Sharp by leveraging the device’s data collection modules into a dashboard to provide organizations with the data and analytics needed to make informed decisions about their WCD technology and workspace productivity investments.These insights are a key driver for implementing work transformation initiatives, according to IDC’s recent “Future of Work Survey.” Synappx Workspaces helps organizations meet their productivity goals by providing data on whether employees are using Windows collaboration displays, tracking who is booking a shared workspace and determining if meetings are taking place as scheduled. In addition, this type of analytical data is becoming increasingly valuable as many businesses begin assessing how to return to the office once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and ensure they do so with increased employee productivity.Designed to address common workspace challenges for businesses of any size, Synappx WorkSpaces monitors ambient conditions, such as temperature changes and attendee impact on the meeting environment. Its analytics provide alert notifications about factors that can impact employee productivity, such as temperature, humidity and air quality. It does this by combining data collected by the IoT sensor hub on the Windows collaboration display with data from Microsoft 365.last_img read more

Eustace praises QPR players but fears for injured Cousins

first_imgDanny Graham’s 22nd-minute penalty put Blackburn ahead and Bradley Dack doubled their lead just 29 seconds into the second half.Matt Smith headed in Luke Freeman’s injury-time cross to pull a goal back for QPR, who are still not mathematically safe from relegation.Osayi-Samuel was lively for them but missed chances, while Rangers were punished for some sloppy defending.Eustace, placed in charge following the recent sacking of Steve McClaren, said: “I’m disappointed with the performance but the attitude of the lads was fantastic. They kept going.Embed from Getty Images QPR fear Jordan Cousins faces a long spell out with a serious knee injury after he was stretchered off during the home defeat against Blackburn.Rangers were beaten 2-1 at Loftus Road, where Cousins was in obvious distress as he was carried from the pitch early in the second half.AdChoices广告​He​ fell awkwardly after an accidental collision with team-mate Bright Osayi-Samuel as they challenged Blackburn’s Lewis Travis near the halfway line.The injury will be assessed over the next 24 hours but the initial signs are not good.Caretaker manager John Eustace said: “There’s no news at the moment but it certainly looks a bad one. We’ll have to wait and see on that.”Embed from Getty Images “The most disappointing thing was the goals we conceded – poor decision-making. We also created a lot chances and it’s disappointing we didn’t take them.“We’ve made two really poor decisions for the goals and started the second half so sloppily. But the attitude of the boys was good, which it is every week.“Blackburn are a very streetwise team and we knew it would be tough for us today, but we needed to take the chances we created.“We’re down to the bare bones and had to change the back four, but that’s certainly not an excuse. We weren’t good enough.“It’s up to the players who put the shirt on to go out and play well.” Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook See also:QPR v Blackburn player ratingsCousins stretchered off as QPR lose againMore injury worries for QPR ahead of Derby County gameQPR’s Furlong prefers right-back rolelast_img read more

Ravens report card versus Broncos: The Offense

first_imgQuarterback: Joe Flacco was one of the only players that played well in this game and his stats did not show it. Flacco put balls on the money the entire game and his receivers dropped them way too many times. Flacco was also under a lot of pressure throughout the game. A 69.4 qb rating is not pretty but that’s what happens when your team drops the ball. Flacco used all his receivers, hitting eight different guys. Grade BRunning backs: The Ravens only managed 58 total rushing yards, that is simply not enough the average was 2.8 yards per carry between Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. They did not have much room to go and were a little effective in the passing game but still a bad game. Grade CReceivers: This group had a few bright spots like Marlon Brown but overall was just bad. Even Dallas Clark dropped a few balls, one was excusable because he got hammered but still bad. Ed Dickson had the worst night, he was targeted five times and only came up with one reception. Dickson’s drops came on key downs and cost the Ravens some drives. Torrey Smith had a fine game but was being covered well. Need more from this group. Grade COffensive Line: On some plays Flacco did not have a chance. They lost Michael Oher early in the game and it went downhill after that. Allowing four sacks and eight quarterback hits is not good. They also failed to open up any wholes for the run game at all. Grade DOverall: Flacco and Brown were two of the Ravens bright spots from this game. They scored 27 points so this was not the worst unit on the field. Grade BPlease follow and like us:last_img read more