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Eric Cantor feeling heat over investor-visa 'boondoggle'

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Two Republican congressional candidates in Virginia say the federal investor-visa program is “ripe with abuse” and that it’s time for a House cleaning.

“It’s a total crony boondoggle,” Dave Brat said of the EB-5 immigration program.

The Randolph-Macon College economics professor is challenging House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 7th Congressional District primary on June 10.

Alluding to investigations of EB-5 “regional centers” in Virginia, Illinois, South Dakota and Kansas, Brat said: “At every turn, people who come up with new gimmicks and shortcuts are found out to engage in crony capitalism.”

“This is exactly why we need a return to free markets,” he told Watchdog.org.

Rob Wasinger, vying against front-running RepublicanBarbara Comstock to succeed Rep. Frank Wolf in Northern Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, takes an equally dim view of the government-approved regional centers collecting billions of dollars from foreign investors seeking a path to citizenship.

“EB-5 is ripe with abuse,” he charged. “It only takes money and (a foreign national) is in. It’s pay to play, and not a lot of safeguards to it.”

“A memo from Homeland Security Investigations recently raised concerns that the visa program could be ‘abused by Iranian operatives to infiltrate the United States’ and ‘facilitate terrorism,’” Wasinger added.

Cantor has sent mixed signals on EB-5, which enables foreign nationals to receive U.S. green cards in exchange for investing $500,000 in targeted business enterprises.

The seven-term congressman joined other House members in extending the program last year. The vote was 412-3.

But during the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Cantor called on Terry McAuliffe to explain issues surrounding the Democrat’s GreenTech Automotiveand its use of EB-5 funding.

“With two federal investigations under way into GreenTech Automotive, Terry McAuliffe must come forward and address the serious concerns raised,” Cantor said in a statement released by Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign.

“While the EB-5 program has been helpful in creating new jobs, any inappropriate use … must be fully examined and explained,” Cantor’s statement added.

Neither Cantor nor Comstock replied to Watchdog’s requests for comment.

Additional information can be found here.

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