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Suit Cites Delays in Non-Amnesty Alien Matters

November 12, 1987|From the Associated Press

Three immigration attorneys have filed suit to speed resolution of thousands of non-amnesty legalization cases backlogged in the district office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Officials and attorneys blame the backlog on the fact that the INS has shifted its most experienced officers to the new amnesty program for illegal aliens.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by private attorneys Howard Hom, Ron Gotcher and Roger Gleckman on behalf of 49 immigrants. Most of them have had cases pending for six months to two years, but one dates back 3 1/2 years, Hom said.

Alternative Step

The backlog has affected applications for registry, a cheap, supposedly quick alternative to amnesty available only to undocumented aliens who have lived in the United States since Jan. 1, 1972. Amnesty applies to aliens who can prove that they have lived in the United States since Jan. 1, 1982.

So far, more than 17,000 of the 19,000 registry applications submitted to the Los Angeles district office of the INS are unresolved.

Because an immigrant loses all hope of legalization if his registry application is rejected after the May 5, 1988, deadline for applying for amnesty, many immigrants will have to go to the expense and trouble of applying for both programs, Hom said.

It costs $50 to file a registry application, but $185 to file for amnesty.

Harold Ezell, Western regional INS commissioner, said that to ease the backlog, INS examiners will begin to resolve well-documented registry cases without interviewing the applicant.

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