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Angry Lawmaker Asks INS to Fire Ezell

October 30, 1987|LAURIE BECKLUND | Times Staff Writer

A Massachusetts congressman who has been involved in a public debate with Harold Ezell, western regional commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, formally asked national INS Commissioner Alan C. Nelson Thursday to fire Ezell.

Nelson was out of the country and could not be reached for comment. However, he said last week that although Ezell has made comments that are occasionally "not appropriate," he has done an "excellent" job of administering the country's busiest INS region.

Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass.) had called for an investigation of Ezell by the INS because of remarks he made in July saying that a spate of death squad-style incidents in Los Angeles should be viewed in the context of an "orchestrated PR campaign" by the religious sanctuary movement.

The timing of the campaign, he told The Times, was designed in part to increase support for a bill sponsored by Moakley aimed at allowing Salvadorans and Nicaraguans to remain in the United States temporarily while their countries are at war.

The remarks infuriated Moakley, who charged that Ezell was implying that the religious groups had made up the death squad-style incidents to influence Congress, and that he, as sponsor, was presumably involved.

"People are very frightened to come forward to apply for amnesty and political asylum when they hear remarks like this," a spokesman for Moakley said.

Ezell stressed Thursday that he had never accused Moakley of anything, and he added that 85% of all applicants for amnesty under the new law have applied directly to INS offices rather than to volunteer agencies. "To me, that's a compliment," he said. "That doesn't sound like people are frightened of the INS."

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