City Council calls special meeting to discuss options
May 26, 2011 6:49 PM
Brooke Edwards

VICTORVILLE • The federal government rejected Victorville’s appeal of the termination of its EB-5 visa investor program, citing concerns over how the city planned to use the loans from foreign citizens and whether enough jobs would be created.

The City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday night to decide whether Victorville will try to appeal that decision to a higher authority or begin returning more of $9.5 million in loans collected to help fund construction of its wastewater treatment plant.

“I think we’re at a point where the Council really needs to look at all of its options,” Mayor Ryan McEachron said. “Are we going to march into Washington and appeal this or let it go?”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved Victorville’s Regional Center in 2009, allowing foreign nationals to supply at-risk loans to the city so long as that money helps create 10 local jobs. The investors are then granted U.S. visas and the loans are to be paid back five years later with interest.

Nineteen people gave Victorville $500,000 each over the past year and a half under the program, and the city intended to use that money to pay back restricted funds borrowed from its water department to build the struggling wastewater plant at Southern California Logistics Airport.

But USCIS sent the city notice of its intent to terminate the program a year ago, with a second notice last August and final termination issued in October.

Victorville appealed that decision but began refunding money to a few investors earlier this year to avoid potential litigation, since the city had continued accepting loans after it received termination notices from USCIS.

The agency sent the city a letter Tuesday with its final termination.

USCIS spokeswoman Mariana Gitomer said she couldn’t discuss the content of the letter due to confidentiality issues, but she confirmed the city’s Regional Center is not currently active.

To read more about Victorville’s troubles with its EB-5 program, see the full story in Friday’s Daily Press. Get complete stories every day with the “exactly as printed” Daily Press E-edition, only $5 per month! Click here to try it free for 7 days. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.