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ANAHEIM | Community News Focus

INS to Continue Checking Inmates During Review of Program

June 28, 1997|DEBRA CANO

The Immigration and Naturalization Service will continue to station agents at the Anaheim City Jail to screen prisoners for citizenship and deport those in the United States illegally, officials said Friday.

The pilot program was due to end Monday.

"The agency has decided to extend the deadline to afford us time to do additional review," INS spokeswoman Virginia Kice said. "During this interim period, we will continue to maintain a presence at the facility."

Kice said the Los Angeles INS office studied the program and on Friday forwarded the results to officials in Washington, for review.

INS officials will decide "whether a continued INS presence at the Anaheim facility is prudent and practical," she said.

The pilot program began as a result of the immigration bill signed by President Clinton last year. It is the only one in the nation and was originally scheduled to end in April.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), whose district includes Anaheim, asked the INS to extend the program until June so the General Accounting Office could study it further.

Since then, GAO officials have said they do not have the resources to conduct the study and do not know when the office will.

With the program winning yet another extension, city and congressional officials expressed elation Friday.

"We know this program has already resulted in a number of criminals being taken off the streets," said Paul Wilkinson, spokesman for Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), co-author of a bill that would expand the INS program nationwide.

"We're very pleased that the INS has agreed with us to keep an agent there while continuing to study the program's effectiveness and while Congress considers expanding the program."

Anaheim City Councilman Bob Zemel said the extension is "extremely gratifying."

"If you're an illegal alien and you do a crime in Anaheim, you're going to meet immigration," Zemel said.

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