Longtime connoisseurs of the American political scene knew that the immigration problem would begin to be solved when enough people found a way to benefit and even profit from the problem.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was only half kidding, maybe not, when he proposed passing a law "letting immigrants come in as long as they agreed to go to Detroit and live there for five or 10 years. Start businesses, take jobs whatever."
Why, "you could populate Detroit overnight."
Whatever you think of Detroit, it would be a more humane way of treating immigrants than splitting up families by deporting the parents while giving them the option of leaving their American-born children behind.
Besides, Detroit was built by immigrants, not only from Eastern and Southern Europe but also from Appalachia and the American South. It gave them a better way of life, which is really all our illegal immigrants are after.
Now two senators, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, have come up with a slightly more mercenary variation of Bloomberg's plan.
To pump a little life and cash into the moribund U.S. housing market, they are proposing to put foreigners willing to put $500,000 into the market on a fast track to residential visas.
The visitor -- at some point in the process of pitching this program they became "visitors," not "foreigners" -- would have to spend at least $250,000 on a primary residence and a total altogether of $500,000 on residential property.
Although in some of our truly distressed cities, $500,000 would buy you an entire neighborhood, this program does not seem aimed at jobless blue- collar workers facing foreclosure. In our better-off cities, $500,000 is the threshold price for a nice condo.
And, as one real estate agent specializing in luxury properties told the L.A. Times, "California, Florida, New York, Colorado, Hawaii and Texas -- these states will see a huge increase in demand." Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, not so much.
There is a precedent for the program: The United States already fast tracks green cards for foreigners willing to invest $500,000 in a business that creates at least 10 jobs.
The home purchases has to be an all-cash deal, no mortgage or equity loans. Considering the predatory lending practices that have come to light among our leading financial institutions, this is probably a wise precaution for protecting gullible foreigners, er, visitors.
As Emma Lazarus so famously said on the base of the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse from your teeming shore ... and I have a great three bedroom, 2 1/2 bath split-level to show you."
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