Kushner pitch in China renews debate on visas

Chinese staff wait for investors at a reception desk on Sunday in Shanghai, China, during an event promoting investment in a Kushner Companies development.

Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, referred to her brother's role in the Trump administration during a pitch for one of the company's projects in New Jersey. "He can not serve as a Senior Adviser to President Trump with unprecedented policy responsibilities and continue to own extensive business holdings, without facing continuing conflict of interest and appearance of conflicts of interest problems", Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said, according to the release.

The apology came after weekend reports about Nicole Kushner Meyer's trip to Beijing, where she touted a Kushner family project in Jersey City and mentioned the controversial EB-5 visa program. The context, per CBS News, was used to encourage Chinese investors to help fund the New Jersey real estate project in exchange for the controversial EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, "which allows permanent USA residency for those who finance projects that create a certain amount of jobs". Kushner Companies has said that Jared has "nothing to do" with the project his sister is now pitching in China.

Kushner Companies later apologized for the name drop, and said it was not meant to be an "attempt to lure investors" to one of its projects in New Jersey. "That was not Ms Meyer's intention".

In a statement, his personal lawyer told CBS News that Kushner "has no involvement" with his previous companies, "divested his interests", and is not a beneficiary of the family trust. Over 80 percent of EB-5 visas are believed to have been issued to Chinese investors. The EB-5 visa program has proven especially popular among wealthy Chinese who see it not only as a ticket toward United States citizenship, but as a way to launder money.

The investor visa program was designed to entice overseas investors to put $500,000 into projects, mainly in higher-unemployment areas, creating at least 10 jobs, or $1 million in wealthier areas.

"Asked why Trump signed a bill allowing the continuation of the investor visa program, a White House spokesman said that Trump had little leeway to adjust a spending bill that was largely assembled by the Obama administration, although Trump did seek to shape the measure in other ways, such as money for the border wall", the Post reported. He insisted Kushner has complied with all ethics rules by disassociating himself from the company.

The visa program has been wreaked with criticism for the way it's been administered.

Meyer never mentioned the president's name during the investor event, but Trump's photo was seen in a slide at the conference that detailed the "key decision makers" on the EB-5 program, CNN reports.

Congress recently extended the visa program until September 30, but many lawmakers are proposing changes to it.

The New York Times reported that the family business' investment drive is also "highlighting their ties to Mr Kushner as they court investors". In the past, the program has been described as "citizenship for sale," and has been entangled in fraud and abuse scandals, according to the Center for Immigration Studies organization. One potential investor told The Washington Post the Kushners' link to the White House was an important consideration. So obvious is the stench of conflicts of interest from this that organizers at the Kushner event in Beijing yesterday reportedly panicked once they discovered there were NYT and WaPo reporters there to cover it and ended up hassling them even though it was advertised as a public event. Jersey City fits neither of those categories.