Disturbing, dark world of visas for sale…and charter schools.
It’s a bad combination. For $500,000 a rich person can buy their way into the US, and part of it can be the understanding that they will form charter schools.
I wonder if such a visa is connected to the charter schools run by Fethullah Gulen.
The charter school network in the U.S. is part of the expanding global network of schools being operated by members of this group. Estimates place the total number of schools at over one thousand and operating in ~100 countries around the world. In other countries the schools are often locally referred to as “Turkish” schools and they are nearly all private. The charter school system in the U.S. is allowing the Gulen Movement’s schools to be publicly funded.
Silence No More
Thanks to a little discussed law passed in 2000 at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, Banks and Equity firms that invest in charter schools and other projects in underserved areas can take advantage of a very generous tax credit, as much as 39% to offset their expenditure in such projects. In essence, that credit amounts to doubling the amount of money they have invested in just 7 years.. Moreover, they are allowed to combine that tax credit with job creation credits and other types of credit, and collect interest payments on the money they are lending out-all which adds up to far more than double in returns.
And it’s not just U.S. investors who see the upside of these investments. Rich donors throughout the world are now sending money to fund our charter schools. Why? Because if they invest at least $500,000 to charters under a federal program called EB-5, they’re allowed to purchase immigration visas for themselves and family members, yet another mechanism in place to ensure that the money keeps rolling in.
More about these EB-5 Visas from Fortune Magazine.
Immigration dominates the news today, and it’s just the latest crucial issue locked in a bitter Washington stalemate. The consequences have been dire. Whether it’s tens of thousands of impoverished children detained by border officials and clogging government facilities, or scientists and engineers highly coveted by technology companies who aren’t permitted to remain here, the U.S. is preventing countless foreigners from staying in this country.
Increasingly, the skilled and the poor are out of luck. But the rich are another matter. The program (EB-5 is short-hand for the government’s fifth employment-based visa “preference”) allows well-heeled foreigners to leap to the front of the line by simply plunking down $500,000.
The program is supposed to generate jobs where they are most needed. But the unregulated nature does not always allow for that.
But because the EB-5 industry is virtually unregulated, it has become a magnet for amateurs, pipe-dreamers, and charlatans, who see it as an easy way to score funding for ventures that banks would never touch. They’ve been encouraged and enabled by an array of dodgy middlemen, eager to cash in on the gold rush. Meanwhile, perhaps because wealthy foreigners are the main potential victims, U.S. authorities have seemed inattentive to abuses.
Florida has been inundated with rich from China forming charter schools in the state. Hard to find figures as they are secretive about it. In this article from 2012 it seems that so far Chinese investors had invested in charter schools to the tune of 30 million. By 2013 it was expected to be around 90 million.
Problem is we are not allowed to know who they are or which schools are involved.
Chinese investors are taking advantage of the EB-5 investment visa program, the so-called “green card via red carpet,” by putting millions into Florida’s charter schools and an aquaculture farm in Central Florida.
Under the EB-5 program, through investments of at least $1 million — or $500,000 for “targeted employment areas” — foreign nationals are able to obtain legal residency in the US so long as the money they invest will help secure or create at least 10 full-time jobs.
A group of Chinese investors have put $30 million into the state’s charter school program to date and are looking to invest three times that amount in the next year, Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm, said in a US-China roundtable discussion last week.
She would not name any of the investors, citing confidentiality.
I wonder if those 10 full time jobs each must create will make up for the secrecy about who owns our schools, who is getting public money from public schools.
This is one of the Clinton legacies to our school system. If you hear Hillary say she supports public education, just remember she has preached charter schools for over 15 years, maybe longer.
(Crossposting in General Discussion
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