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Coalition Goes Public to Give Amnesty a Boost

February 03, 1988|BOB SCHWARTZ | Times Staff Writer

A coalition of immigrant rights groups Tuesday launched a public education campaign aimed at boosting amnesty applications during the final few months of the yearlong legalization program.

"There are still a lot of people out there who don't know their rights under the law," Robin Blackwell, coordinator of the Orange County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said Tuesday at a news conference. "Time is running out."

May 4 is the deadline to apply for legal resident status under the legalization program, which grants amnesty to illegal aliens who have lived in the country continuously since Jan. 1, 1982, and to some agricultural workers who have been in the United States a shorter time.

The coalition unveiled a handbook that includes complete listings of Orange County organizations which handle amnesty applications, as well as where to find legal and financial help. The handbook, published in both English and Spanish, will be distributed through the coalition's approximately 35 groups--ranging from the City of Irvine to the United Agricultural Assn.

The campaign will also include several radio and television public service announcements, some of which feature Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez urging immigrants to apply for amnesty and employers to help their workers gain legal status.

Before the legalization program began, some U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials had estimated that as many as 4 million people might apply for legal status. But current projections place the final number at only about half that, even though the vast majority of applications adjudicated so far have been approved.

The coalition will also sponsor an "amnesty clinic" Saturday at the Corbin Community Center, 2215 W. McFadden Ave. in Santa Ana. Amnesty applicants will be able to have their cases reviewed by immigration counselors, and doctors approved by the INS will provide the required medical examinations at a cost of $30 for adults and $10 for children.

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