USCIS: Victorville EB-5 regional center promised 12 jobs, delivered 3
After the recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decision to terminate the EB-5 regional center in Victorville, California, city documents indicate that only three people are currently employed at its wastewater treatment plant.
According to the Victorville Daily Press, Victorville had repeatedly promised federal officials that the plant would create 12 jobs.
The EB-5 regional center in Victorville was originally approved by the USCIS in July 2009 and allowed the city to accept loans of $500,000 from foreign investors to finance construction of the plant, as long as the investments could be connected with the establishment of 10 full-time jobs.
Through the EB-5 visa program, these foreigners who invest $1 million (or $500,000 in some areas) gain eligibility to receive a U.S. green card.
The USCIS is reportedly not buying the fact that 400 new jobs at Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and Plastipak can be attributed to the wastewater plant, according to the news provider.
But attorney David Hirson, who is helping the city's EB-5 regional center, disagrees with the USCIS and says the agency could not dispute at least the 12 workers that the town said the plant itself would employ.
Economist John Husing said that the plant "directly involves 12 people to operate it," in his city-commissioned report that was sent to the USCIS in response to its second termination notice in August. An additional report included in the response says that "12 permanent jobs will be needed to operate the wastewater facility in 2010" and even says that number is a "conservative estimate."
In the e-mailed response, Economic Development Director Keith Metzler also argued that the plant is not yet operating at its full capacity and is treating only 1.1 million gallons of wastewater a day. This number is in contrast to the 2.2 million gallons the town is expected to be getting paid for.
However, an industry insider who has examined the mostly-automated plant told the news source that it should not employ more than four or five people. Even if the water flow doubles, the insider told the Daily Press that he did not think the number of estimated employees could approach the 12.
Victorville is still preparing its appeal of the termination under a November 22 deadline. If the termination is upheld, the city could potentially take the case to federal court, the news provider said.