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Extending Alien Filing Deadline

April 17, 1988

Extension of the deadline for illegal aliens to file for legalization and temporary residency under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is not necessary and would be counterproductive.

Two of the major reasons an extension is not needed are: (1) The program is already successful. Approximately 1.5 million people have already filed and thousands more will file before the May 4 deadline. (2) INS has already announced a more lenient policy of allowing aliens to file applications by the May 4 deadline and then at least 60 days later (after July 5) submit supporting data and medical information.

Because of the mass publicity--including all ethnic media given this topic in the last 11 months, it is difficult believe that any qualified alien doesn't know how, what, where and when to file. At our legalization offices in recent weeks, we have seen growing numbers coming in to file. This is indicative of the fact that the procrastinators are now showing up. We still have one month for these late filers to apply. There are many downsides to extension:

--Confusion. By encouraging an extension a confusing message is sent. Applicants either believe an extension has been granted or will be or are uncertain, all of which will keep them from coming forward.

--Political reality. It took six years to develop a very delicately balanced new law which now is working very successfully. It is politically naive to expect that Congress will, in a month before the deadline, be able to consider, debate, and pass legislation extending the program.

--Delicate balance of immigration. Congress fashioned a very delicate balance, with legalization being added to an enforcement bill as a fair balance. If Congress should consider an extension of legalization, it must also consider adjustments in the enforcement program, the SAVE program to check alien status for benefits, and other aspects.

--Cost aspects. Congress made it clear that this program should be self-supporting and it is. With an extension, the cost would increase and the applications would not cover the cost. Therefore, the taxpayers will have to consider paying additional money from their pockets for this program which was not contemplated by Congress.

A thoughtful and reasonable analysis indicates that an extension is unnecessary.


Regional Commissioner

Immigration and Naturalization


San Pedro

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