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EB-5 Bargain Brings Chinese to Save West River from Keystone XL?

CNN reports what we South Dakotans know from experience: Chinese investors love the EB-5 visa investment program. According to yesterday's report, Chinese immigrants took almost 6,900 EB-5 visas in 2013, 81% of the total issued. Compare that with the 16 EB-5 visas issued to Chinese immigrants in 2004, the year South Dakota started leaning on the program to support large dairy projects in East River.

Immigration lawyers tell CNN Canada's decision to end a similar immigration program based on poor payoff has already driven more immigrants to apply for EB-5 visas. Rich Chinese looking to buy their green cards get a great bargain from the U.S.:

"The cost is very reasonable in relation to other countries," [immigration lawyer David] Hirson said. Australia, for example, requires a $4.5 million investment -- nine times the minimum required in the U.S. [Sophia Yan, "Rich Chinese Overwhelm U.S. Visa Program," CNNMoney, 2014.03.25]

Readers know I'm not nearly as fond of the EB-5 visa investment program as the handful of South Dakota players who've profited from it without proper state oversight. But let me reach for a silver lining to the Chinese takeover of the EB-5 visa quota:

For rich Chinese, opportunities in America are attractive. A green card offers a way to send their children to college, escape heavy pollution and enjoy an improved quality of life, said Kate Kalmykov, an attorney with Greenberg Taurig. Plus, the EB-5 program is relatively cheap [Yan, 2014.03.25].

These Chinese investors want to escape pollution. So when they come here and see the spate of oil spills and pipeline ruptures driven in part by their home country's increasing thirst for North American oil, those EB-5 immigrants may join our fight to protect their new home from the predations of TransCanada's China-bound Keystone XL pipeline, keep the price of driving their new American Cadillacs down, and leave a billion barrels of dirty tar sands oil in the ground. Save West River, and save the planet: bring on more EB-5 investors!


  1. Jerry 2014.03.26

    Our corrupted South Dakota republicans, yes, that is all of you, are wanting to get in on the clean ups. That is what this is all about, not the oil, the cleaning up after the spills and there will be many. Here is another one, almost daily now,
    in the Great Lakes no less.

    Republicans have a real problem with clean fresh water, they hate it. They loves them some bottle water though and it there world, God has created the plastic bottle with that brew in it.

  2. Nick Nemec 2014.03.26

    Wishful thinking Cory. I'm willing to bet those Chinese "investors" don't give a crap about KXL or the likelihood it will pollute some of the cleanest areas of America. All they care about is buying a US green card, and don't kid yourself that's what the EB-5 program is all about. If the "investors" actually make some money on the deal it's just a bonus.

  3. Lynn G. 2014.03.26

    Years ago I lived in Austin, TX and would drive to Galveston often for the weekend and asked one of the locals why I'd see an oil sheen in the ocean water all the time and they just responded casually it was from the oil platforms in the gulf and it was no big deal. Of course I'd always drive past Texas City with all the refineries aka "Cancer Alley" on my to Galveston.

  4. mike from iowa 2014.03.26
    I posted this in time for the 25th anniversary of Exxon Valdez spill in PWS. Vital stats here for how very little oil is actually captured after a spill and how oil companies are ignoring rules put in place after the E-V disaster.

  5. chris 2014.03.26

    Anybody know if Powertech was gonna get funded through EB-5?

  6. John Tsitrian 2014.03.26

    OMG. I'm trying to find a roll call. Kristi's vote should prove interesting.

  7. rick 2014.03.26

    A Chinese multi-billionaire shells out enough cash to buy green cards for scores of his executives and engineers to exploit the U.S. economy.

    Scores of families from Central America - men, women and children - risk being murdered or dying of heat and exposure trying to cross the border to get a job to feed the children and give them a lifestyle they didn't have back home.

    Which of these two scenarios resemble the history and struggles of our American immigrant ancestors? There is something fundamentally rotten that the former scenario is given the red carpet while the latter is roundly hated. Shameful!

  8. Jerry 2014.03.26

    You know, I see that Ms. NOem has plenty of support here in the Black Hills and for the life of me, I fail to see how she gets that. Why are the good ole republican boys in the tourism and hospitality business so enamored by this flakey flake? Is it just because she sits a horse well, bats those eyes or is it the way she handles a cellphone. Boys, you need to wake up and see that she is no good for you, she has her eyes on other suitors.

  9. John Tsitrian 2014.03.26

    Thanks for that link, Jerry. Food for thought.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.27

    Chris, you ask a very good question. I've never read anything indicating Powertech has its eye on EB-5 investors or that Joop Bollen and Richard Benda had their eye on Powertech.

    And if you review the last amendment issued for the South Dakota Regional Center, mining is not one of the designated industry clusters eligible for EB-5 funding. Dairy, meat processing, feedlots, utilities (Basin Electric, wind farms), machinery manufacturing, food/beverage/tobacco manufacturing, petroleum and coal products (Hyperion!), chemical manufacturing (pharma, ethanol...), prof/sci/tech services, and amusement/gambling/recreation (Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino), but no mining.

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