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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration will publish a new regulation on Wednesday designed to crack down on a notoriously fraud-ridden immigrant visa program for wealthy foreign investors — despite President Trump raising last-minute doubts, according to 3 senior administration officials.

Behind the scenes: Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli played an important role in ultimately persuading Trump to let the regulation go through, according to 2 sources familiar with the situation. People briefed on their conversations said Trump had stalled the regulation after people raised concerns to him that the regulation would curtail foreign investment in the United States.

  • Those in Congress and the administration who worked to get the regulation through had told us they felt blindsided by the delay. "I’m irritated that it was pulled back at the last minute," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told Axios last week. The White House was especially alert to Grassley's concerns, a senior administration official said.

How it works: Before the new regulation, foreigners who invested $1 million in any U.S. commercial enterprise or $500,000 in an enterprise based in certain rural or high-unemployment areas were eligible for a green card through the EB-5 system.

  • The program has become popular in recent years, especially for wealthy Chinese nationals. There is currently a 5-year backlog for Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese people hoping to get a green card through the program, Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told Axios.
  • The visa has also been the source of numerous lawsuits, fraud and investment scams. Both Democrats and Republican members of Congress have harshly criticized it.

The big picture: The new regulation, which originated during the Obama administration, raises the amount of money required to qualify for the visa — the first increase since the program started in 1990. The minimum investment is now $900,000, up from $500,000. It also more clearly defines the areas in the U.S. that count as "targeted employment areas," locations the program was initially intended to help, according to Pierce.

  • It cleared the Office of Management and Budget earlier this month. Cuccinelli tweeted about it. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan even signed the regulation weeks ago, Grassley said.

Between the lines: Grassley had told Axios that "big money" and powerful people, including the Chamber of Commerce, have opposed efforts to reform the system in the past.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation last year into the Kushner family's real estate company for its use of the EB-5 program. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has called for the visa to be eliminated to avoid conflicts of interests, Roll Call reported.
  • A senior administration official said Jared Kushner has had no involvement whatsoever in any stage of the development or consideration of the EB-5 regulation.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.

Marketing to Generation Alpha

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Marketers are pouring money into figuring out the tastes and habits of Generation Alpha — kids born from 2010 through 2024 — who are unprecedented in the extent they're growing up online.

Why it matters: They're weaned on TikTok, Amazon and in-app purchases. They're learning from their millennial parents to hold brands accountable for causes like social justice and sustainability. And no prior age cohort will be as large in size or marketing power.