For the first time, a whistleblower has publicly raised concerns about security threats stemming from EB-5, a controversial immigration program that gives Green Cards to wealthy foreigners who agree to invest $500,000. ABC News reports that a Senior Special Agent at the Department of Homeland Security came forward as part of a U.S. Senate Hearing that was held to discuss alleged retaliatory action against insiders who reported wrongdoing.
“During the course of my investigation it became very clear that the EB-5 program has serious security challenges,” she stated, according to ABC News. The whistleblower has conducted an investigation showing that visa applicants whose applications “lacked basic necessary law enforcement” screening were approved in as little as 16 days. Such applicants were from China, Russia, Pakistan and Malaysia.
The EB-5 program provides temporary residency and ultimately Green Cards to foreigners who invest $500,000 or more in approved American ventures. The program is intended to create jobs, but concerns have arisen due security risks. ABC News previously reported on EB-5, and found that some applicants who faced allegations of fraud, money laundering, forgery and other crimes were still able to obtain visas through the program. The investigation revealed that the program became a means for many to circumvent the security restrictions during the regular immigration process.
At the hearing, the whistleblower said that she faced retaliatory action for speaking up about these concerns. “After disclosing gross mismanagement, waste and fraud that threatened the general public’s safety, National Security Risks and public corruption surrounding an EB-5 project, I was subjected to a significant amount of harassment and retaliation,” she said, according to ABC News. “I was removed from the investigation, a shoddy follow-up review was conducted and then in 2013, ultimately, the investigation was shut down,”
Whistleblowers were also an integral part of an internal investigation by the Inspector General showing evidence of political meddling. Last week, senior Senate proposed legislation looking to prevent individuals from taking advantage of the EB-5 program.