An immigration loophole for rich foreigners

I often wonder about those immigrants who scramble so desperately into the US from across our southern border, enduring killer heat, dodging rattlesnakes and border patrols, and otherwise risking it all so their families might have a chance at a better life. I wonder: Why don't they just buy their way into our country?

I often wonder about those immigrants who scramble so desperately into the US from across our southern border, enduring killer heat, dodging rattlesnakes and border patrols, and otherwise risking it all so their families might have a chance at a better life. I wonder: Why don’t they just buy their way into our country?

Perhaps they’re unaware that anyone can easily become a legal American resident without endangering their life, getting entangled in endless red tape, or even being made to feel unwelcome. Anyone who’s rich, that is.

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You never hear those ranting, anti-immigrant tea party politicos mention it, but the USA has a very special immigration loophole known as “golden visas” for the world’s 1-percenters. Ten thousand of these are handed out each year to the privileged ones who pledge to invest at least $1 million in our country and create 10 jobs. What kind of investment? Buying yourself a house or condo counts. What kind of jobs? Low-wage, part-time, no-benefit jobs are fine. Where did you get this money? Don’t ask.

England does this, too, though its officials are a little picker, requiring $2.8 million for foreigners to buy their way in. But if that’s too much, shop around – for example, you can get immediate citizenship in Cyprus for $1.3 million, which automatically lets you live, work, and travel anywhere in Europe, plus giving you easy access to the US and other Western countries. Or you can have Portugal for a little more than half-a-million bucks, which also buys access to nearly all of Europe without needing additional visas.

But doesn’t this fling open our national gates to all sorts of kleptocrats, oligarchs, thieves, and organized-crime kingpins? Well, yes, but they’re okay, for they are rich… and money is the golden E-Z Pass of global immigration.

“Europe’s Having a Distress Sale on Visas,” The New York Times, February 10, 2015.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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