City expects decision on appeal of EB-5 termination Dec. 2
November 07, 2011 7:23 PM
Brooke Edwards Staggs
City Editor

VICTORVILLE • A judge has agreed to pause Victorville’s lawsuit against the federal government, waiting to see if the city first succeeds in overturning the termination of its EB-5 visa investor program through an administrative appeals process.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved Victorville’s EB-5 regional center in 2009, allowing the city to solicit loans from foreign citizens in exchange for green cards, so long as the loans helped create 10 local jobs. Then, in a precedent-setting move, USCIS terminated Victorville’s program in October 2010 due to “material factual discrepancies” in related financial reports.

Victorville expects to hear back Dec. 2 from USCIS’ Administrative Appeals Office, but appears ready to move forward with suing the federal agency if the termination is upheld.

“What we care most about is keeping the regional center and being able to use it at a future date for some future project,” Mayor Ryan McEachron said Monday.

The city built its wastewater treatment plant primarily using interfund loans, pledging to pay them back in part with EB-5 funds. McEachron said they’ve accepted that’s not going to happen in light of the termination, with all $9.5 million in loans Victorville had collected now refunded to investors.

Now the city is hedging its bets on plans to sell the plant to the regional Victor Valley Wastewater Treatment Authority. So far, that deal has stalled based on a substantial gap between what the city wants to get for the plant and what VVWRA is willing to pay.

Still, Victorville wants to use EB-5 funds for future projects at Southern California Logistics Airport. And so a split City Council voted in June to sue the federal government over the program’s termination.

For more about the city’s battle with USCIS, read the full story in Tuesday’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.

Brooke Edwards Staggs may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at BEdwards@VVDailyPress.com.