House Passes Immigration Bill That Ignores Border Crisis
FAIR Take | June 2021
The House of Representatives passed the AMIGOS Act (H.R. 2571), another immigration bill that does nothing to address the border crisis. Specifically, it adds Portugal to the list of foreign states whose nationals are eligible for the E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant investor programs.
The E-1 and E-2 programs allow nationals of certain countries to enter the U.S. as temporary visitors for the purpose of conducting trade or to invest in a U.S.-based business. The E-2 program in particular functions similarly to the controversial EB-5 investor program, although the E-2 does not confer legal permanent residence on its own. Like the EB-5, the E-2 requires foreign nationals to invest “a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States.” The period of stay for E-2 visas is two years, although there is no maximum amount of renewals. This means that savvy E-2 visa holders can use the program to stay indefinitely in the U.S., or at least until they find a way to adjust their status.
Last year, Congress considered a previous version of the AMIGOS Act. At that time, FAIR raised concerns that the bill as written would lead to abuse of the E-2 program because of Portugal’s loose “golden visa” program, where nationals of a third country (normally China) purchase Portuguese citizenship and then petition the U.S. for an E-2 visa as a Portuguese citizen. While seemingly outlandish, this occurred in Grenada regularly, as David North of the Center for Immigration Studies reported on exhaustively.
While this new version of the AMIGOS Act did contain a modest integrity provision, FAIR has long opposed these programs due to fraud, abuse, and numbers – just like the related EB-5 program, which has drawn bipartisan criticism.
Further, the House has no business considering or voting on any immigration bill that does not address the current crisis raging at the Southwest border. As FAIR has noted on Capitol Hill, lawmakers should oppose any piece of immigration legislation that does not address the border crisis, protect American workers, or truly reform one of our deeply flawed immigration programs.
The House passed the AMIGOS Act in a package of other bills unrelated to immigration by a vote of 325-103. The bill now heads to the Senate.