(KMSP) - The issues surrounding immigration have taken center stage in this election cycle, dividing republicans and creating a topic for debate. But what everyone may not know is that there's already an immigration program in place that's been getting bipartisan support for decades.
From almost the moment he entered the race, Donald Trump has forced a republican debate over immigration. But for several years now, foreigners have been flocking over our borders legally in a practice embraced by both democrats and republicans.
“One issue that most Americans agree is if the immigrant is going to contribute to America by growing jobs then they should get preferential treatment,” Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, said.
Through the EB-5 program, rich foreign investors can essentially buy their way to a green card. All it takes is at least half a million dollars and the creation of ten jobs.
"Our immigration system to just go through the process, it takes a while, that's one of the criticisms of it is that it's taking too long,” attorney Brad Walz, representing companies looking for foreign investment, said. “By making this investment, essentially you can shorten the wait time to a few years."
The program has been around since the early 1990’s, and for a while, only a few hundred investors were cashing in on it. But that all changed after the recession. And just last year, more than 10,000 received green cards through EB-5.
Many American businesses use it as an alternative to bank loans.
"It's very attractive from a financing perspective,” Walz said. “The cost of capital associated with an EB-5 investor is lower than traditional financing."
This in turn could mean more building and more jobs.
"Americans want to see a reason for legal documented immigration,” Jacobs said.
According to reports, getting a green card takes about four years through the EB-5 program.