On December 26th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report critical of the EB-5 Program and its administration by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). IIUSA’s response, below, was subsequently posted on our blog and distributed to key congressional offices to help clear any misconceptions asserted by the report.
As the industry trade association that represents over 130 EB-5 Regional Centers that serve over forty states/territories and account for over 95% of the capital flowing through the EB-5 Regional Center Program (the “Program”), IIUSA welcomes engagement with Congress and federal agencies to strengthen and protect Program integrity.
Proper oversight, transparency, compliance with – and enforcement of – all applicable laws and regulations are essential to maintain the confidence of all stakeholders and ensure that the Program continues to bring capital and job creation to American communities at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer. A comprehensive peer-reviewed economic study found that from 2010-2011, investments made through the EB-5 program contributed $2.2 billion to U.S. GDP and supported over 28,000 jobs. Preliminary 2012 data shows continued growth, with the amount invested topping $2.5 billion and over 33,000 jobs supported.
We are, however, puzzled by findings and conclusions in the recently released Dept. of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) report that do not reflect current U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) operations related to the EB-5 Program. In fact, many of the reforms the OIG identifies as necessary are already underway, and other criticisms of USCIS’ administration of the Program are effectively refuted in a statement by USCIS included at the end of the OIG report. This statement, which is essential read for anyone looking at the report or the EB-5 Program, confirms the agency’s commitment to effective and efficient administration of this U.S. job creation program.
For example, recognizing the complexity of the EB-5 Program, USCIS has created a new Immigrant Investor Program Office staffed by trained economists, experts in business and immigration law, as well as fraud and national security specialists – now led by a former director of the Treasury department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. USCIS plans for all EB-5 related adjudications to be relocated to this office over the next six months.
The agency also already has clarified its guidance for adjudicators with a comprehensive policy memorandum and already has strengthened interagency relationships critical to program oversight and implementation. This is particularly evident in new cooperation with enforcement and intelligence agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.
These and the other specific rebuttals in the USCIS response should raise significant questions about the credibility of the report, something that is further undermined by the recent resignation of the DHS IG who himself was under investigation.
We look forward to working cooperatively with Congress, USCIS and other regulatory agencies to strengthen the Program which is bringing considerable economic benefits to our communities at a time our country needs it most.
IIUSA, December 26, 2013