Your poor huddled billionaires

[caption id="attachment_68782" align="alignright" width="600" caption="Conor O'Clery. "]


The year is ending on a hopeful note for any Irish hoping to make a go of it in America. But even if an Irish E-3 visa deal is nailed down in 2012 the prized green card will yet remain elusive - unless you have loads of cash.

The New York Times reported that affluent foreigners are "rushing to take advantage of a federal immigration program that offers them the chance to obtain a green card in return for investing in construction projects in the United States."

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The report stated that the number of foreign applicants, each of whom must invest at least $500,000 in a project, has nearly quadrupled in the last two years, to more than 3,800 in the 2011 fiscal year.

"Demand has grown so fast that the Obama administration, which is championing the program, is seeking to streamline the application process."

Amazing what money can do, isn't it?

There can't be too many, if any, Irish Celtic Tiger survivors with a spare half mill., but there could be one or two roaming the ghost estate-dotted old sod.

The Times reported that "some critics of the program" have described it as an improper use of the immigration system to spur economic development - a cash-for-visas scheme."

That's what it sure looks like. Poor huddled masses indeed.


It was something of an accepted truism in the world of Irish journalism for some years. If you wanted to be up close to a big story don't stray too far from Conor O'Clery, now retired as the most roving of Irish Times correspondents, and lately busying himself by writing books.

One such book is "Moscow, December 25, 1991," O'Clery's on-the-spot account of the collapse of the Soviet Union which took place on Christmas Day 20 years ago this December 25th.

Though the story is situated in Moscow and the book was written in Ireland it has a New York publisher, PublicAffairs, which is based in Manhattan. O'Clery, a native of Belfast, is always worth the read and IF has a copy of his Moscow tome under the Christmas tree in anticipation of an enjoyable New Year read.

O'Clery, as some will recall, delivered one of the most searing accounts of 9/11 to Ireland and beyond as his Manhattan apartment at the time was right beside the World Trade Center.

Meanwhile, another of O'Clery's books, "The Billionaire Who wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away a Fortune Without Anyone Knowing," is likely selling a few extra copies this week with the news that Feeney is funding the Cornell campus on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan.