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Fingerprinting Firms File Suit Against INS

January 22, 1998|Daryl Strickland

A class-action lawsuit is alleging that federal immigration officials improperly terminated a three-year contract that allowed thousands of small businesses to fingerprint hopeful U.S. citizens and legal residents with green cards. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, seeks a temporary restraining order that would allow the companies to resume fingerprinting services. The suit was filed on behalf of 3,800 small businesses nationwide, including more than 300 in Southern California. Although the suit does not specify damages, the Newport Beach lawyer representing the businesses estimated that they stand to lose at least $32 million per year in revenues. Attorney George Trejo said the INS canceled a three-year fingerprinting contract less than six months after the agreement took effect. The federal agency should have scheduled a hearing so the businesses could have contested the new procedures, he said. An INS spokesman said he could not comment on the lawsuit, but added that he was unaware of a three-year provision in the fingerprinting contract.

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