Sitting Sen. Luther Strange has found himself in the middle of a dogfight for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat, where he faces former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on Sept. 26 in a run-off that’s oft a contest of who’s the most conservative candidate.
On the immigration front, both candidates have come up pretty even.
Since going to Washington back in February, Strange has worked hard on earning his immigration stripes. In May, he introduced legislation to force sanctuary citizens to pay for the president’s border wall. “They can either follow the law,” Strange said while announcing his bill, “or fund the wall.”
What’s surprising however, is finding out the senator has a personal equity ownership in an EB-5 visa development project — a controversial program in which wealthy foreign nationals can purchase visas.
Established in 1990, the EB-5 Visa program allows real estate developers to sell legal immigration status to wealthy foreign nationals for $500,000, thus allowing the very rich to buy their way into legal status. Under the program, those foreign nationals, their spouses and their unmarried children under 21 years old are able to apply for green cards.
According to his February New Filer Report, Strange listed ownership in the project.
In 2016, 8,505 EB-5 visas, of a maximum 10,000, were issued — up dramatically from 2007’s 471.
According to data from the State Department, about 80% of the investors came from mainland China. Allowing those who can afford the EB-5 to be able to jump past the long backlog of Chinese citizens seeking entry to the U.S.
Here are the top five countries of residence for those who were issued EB-5 visas last year:
- 82% from mainland China: 6,968 visas issued
- 3.3% from Vietnam: 287 visas issued
- 2.3% from South Korea: 195 visas issued
- 2.1% from Taiwan: 175 visas issued
- 1.1% from India: 90 visas issued
Suddenly Strange’s immigration stance doesn’t seem so sound.
What’s more, in August 2011, Strange called on the Alabama legislature to weaken provisions of a state law on immigration, including a measure designed to combat sanctuary cities. Strange stressed illegal Aliens could still attend Alabama public schools and that the Yellowhammer State “welcomes” immigrants.
“Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange stressed Wednesday that the law would not prevent undocumented immigrants from having access to public-school education. Strange also argued that the law was not an anti-immigrant measure, and that the state welcomes visitors,” wrote CNN of the situation.
Strange went so far as to call for the repeal of a third of the 2011 law, including the right to sue sanctuary city officials who don’t fully enforce the law.
“In a memo dated Dec. 1 and sent to Hubbard and Senate President Del Marsh, R-Anniston, Strange calls for an exemption for church activity involving illegal immigrants, an end to the right to sue public officials who don’t fully enforce the law and stopping the requirement that schools gather immigration data on enrollees,” wrote the Huntsville Times (12/7/11). “Strange’s proposals cover nearly a third of the 32 sections in the law and address parts that have already been blocked by federal courts and some elements currently in effect.”