By Miguel Gonzalez
Editor and Founder
(Victorville)—Despite news of the recent termination of the Victorville EB-5 Program by the Federal Government (USCIS), officials with the project remained very upbeat about reinstating the plan through an appeal process.
Officials with the City of Victorville said Tuesday that they will direct staff to pursue every avenue to bring back the program. “We will instruct staff to appeal to USCIS and explore every option. This program is too important to the future of the City of Victorville,” Councilmember Ryan McEachron told High Desert Daily.
About $10 million had been raised for the project’s EB-5 Regional Center Program, which allows foreign investors to obtain green cards in exchange for $500,000 investments in the U.S.
USCIS also stipulates that each $500,000 investment needs to create 10 jobs.
David Hirson, partner with Fragomen, the law firm that represents city EB-5 consultant Inland Energy before the USCIS, said in a phone conversation that the decision to halt the Regional Center designation was unbelievable. “I think it is ridiculous, the City is creating jobs. The example is very clear: without the construction of the waste water treatment plant, Dr. Pepper/Snapple and Plastipak would not have come to Victorville,” Hirson explained.
JOB COUNT PUT INTO QUESTION
After more than one year of approving the Victorville Regional Center as well as approving an investor and his whole family for conditional residence, the USCIS changed its mind on the interpretation of the economic methodology which supported more than 1,200 jobs being created in Victorville by reason of the construction of the wastewater treatment facility, according to documents.
Hirson said that Congressional representatives, economists, as well as other government agencies are being approached to provide an alternate methodology for counting jobs to meet USCIS’ new requirements.
McEachron believes Victorville also has the support of a “big political clout” to reverse the decision by USCIS. “We will fight the good fight. I believe we will be successful in overturning their (USCIS) decision.”
The key, according to Hirson, will be to have USCIS understand the correlation between the construction on the waste water treatment plant and the eventual arrival of Dr. Pepper/Snapple and Plastipak. To date, these companies have created over 400 well-paying jobs and experts, such as Economist Dr. John Husing, estimate the job number could grow up to 1,200 jobs.
“Many of the firms that are targets for SCLA’s [Southern California Logistics Airport]development need access to an industrial waste water treatment facility. If the VictorValley area is to be competitive for them, it needs a treatment plant that can pre-treatindustrial discharge at tertiary levels up to Title 22 standards where it can then be reused as reclaimed water,” Husing said in a recent economic report.
Hirson said his outlook on the issue is positive. “We are of the firm belief that this current obstacle – i.e., the job creation calculations – will soon be overcome and the case will move forward in the normal course.”