Actions are taking place in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle on Tuesday decrying a controversial U.S. immigration program that unions and immigration advocates have dubbed “immigration reform for the 1%.”

“If Congress renews the ‘$500,000 green card’ EB-5 program without any comprehensive solutions for immigration reform, they’re sending a clear message: the American Dream is for sale and working immigrants can’t afford it.”
—María Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE

The little-known EB-5 visa program allows wealthy foreigners to qualify for an entry visa when they invest a certain amount in an American business. The minimum qualifying investment in the U.S. is $1 million, or $500,000 within a high-unemployment area or rural area. If the business venture creates 10 or more American jobs after two years, the foreign investor can receive a Green Card.

According to the Washington Post, “the program was barely used as recently as 2005, but it became a popular source of capital after the financial crisis. Last year, a record 10,692 EB-5 visas were issued, according to the real estate services firm Savills.”

Congress is preparing to renew the EB-5 program in September.

But UNITE HERE, a union representing more than 270,000 hotel, casino, and airport workers in North America, charges that with millions of immigrants currently stuck in limbo as federal courts hear challenges to President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration, the very existence of the EB-5 program is “fundamentally unfair.”

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