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April 07, 1988

The amnesty program of the 1986 immigration law has fallen far below its potential. I agree with The Times that "it is clear that the best remedy would be an extension of the deadline" ("Extend the Amnesty," editorial, March 24).

There is a bill that recommends a full year extension and Rep. Romano Mazzoli (D-Ky.) has introduced legislation that would extend the application deadline by six months.

The short-form application giving a 60-day extension to collect documentation does not address the real issue behind the low turnout of applicants.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service is the agency most feared by refugees. The INS has spent years terrorizing Central American refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala. The INS raids places of work and homes, and in the end, has sent tens of thousands of political refugees back to uncertain fates in their homelands. To overcome their understandable fear of the INS is not an easy or rapid process for these refugees.

In Los Angeles it is estimated that only half of those eligible have applied for amnesty. Harold Ezell, Western regional director of INS, claims to want to see this program succeed--to prove that he must work to extend the deadline.


Executive Director

Southern Calif. Ecumenical Council

Interfaith Taskforce

on Central America

Los Angeles

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