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January 11, 2012

Federal agency not yet ready to deal with EB-5 gerrymandering, as new draft memo still defers to state's mapmaking

Atlantic Yards Report

A revised draft memo on EB-5 Adjudications Policy, issued today by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to further discussion of policy regarding immigrant investors, makes no attempt to deal with issues of gerrymandering the map to help those promoting projects to claim they are in areas of high unemployment.

Gerrymandering is crucial, because areas where unemployment is 150% of the national average qualify as Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), where the minimum investment--for an immigrant investor who seeks green cards for his/her whole family--is $500,000, rather than $1 million.

That issue came to the fore last month after the New York Times published a front-page article describing the odd maps approved for New York projects and an editorial calling for reforms. (I had written previously about the "Bed-Stuy Boomerang" involving Atlantic Yards.)

In the Times, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas expressed concern whether the spirit of the law is being followed. If he's urging reform, though, his agency apparently will wait until legislative renewal of the regional center program--the investment pools through which immigrants invest--rather than via regulation.

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Posted by eric at January 11, 2012 6:51 PM