Top GOP chairmen investigating foreign visa program

Top GOP chairmen investigating foreign visa program
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Two top Republican committee chairmen are investigating an interagency panel that advised the federal government to shut down a controversial investor visa program that expires in October.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyLighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal Bottom line Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' MORE (Iowa) and House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (Utah) requested documents from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regarding a 2010 working group investigating the EB-5 investor visa program.

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The EB-5 visa program lures foreign investment to U.S. construction with the promise of legal status and eventual citizenship. Despite securing billions in funding for projects, the program has faced intense scrutiny from lawmakers after several federal and media investigations revealed fraud and corruption.

In a letter made public Thursday, Grassley — a longtime critic of the program — and Chaffetz asked the USCIS for information, as the program’s renewal is likely to be included in a continuing resolution (CR)  to fund the government.

“It’s beyond me why some in Congress are so reluctant to reform a program that has been the subject of so much fraud and abuse,” Grassley said in a statement. “We need a full picture of the recommendations made by the interagency working group and we need to know why those recommendations never reached Capitol Hill.”

Chaffetz’s committee interviewed several former members of the working group. Those members suggested letting the EB-5 program expire, according to excerpts released by the lawmakers.

“It’s not that the investigators who review this program don’t see its value or its potential value, but we see the rampant exploitation,” read one excerpt.

The EB-5 program will likely be renewed until Dec. 9 in a CR, but its future afterward is unknown. Lawmakers have haggled for months over reforms to the program, leaving billions of dollars in investment up in the air.

Grassley and Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Trump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks MORE (D-Vt.) are willing to let the program die without reform while they work with Sens. John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal MORE (R-Texas), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerKrystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (D-N.Y.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.) on several contentious issues.

Cornyn, Schumer and Flake are fierce defenders of the program and quashed last December a reform effort from Grassley, Leahy, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.) and ranking Democrat Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).