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Ventura County Roundup | Countywide

Advocates Criticize INS Price Increases

September 29, 1998|MARINA MALIKOFF

Some immigrant advocates are protesting price increases for work permits and immigration cards, contending that the INS has failed to cure its long-criticized inefficiencies.

"People still have to wait, files are still getting lost, and people are still getting the runaround for no reason," said Michael Rodriguez, director of community development for El Concilio del Condado de Ventura, a nonprofit group that assists immigrants through the citizenship process.

Immigration and Naturalization Service officials say the delays stem from a surge in citizenship applications as well as the need to overhaul the entire system. The agency came under fire in 1996 when criminal immigrants were allegedly becoming citizens.

"I would say service has improved even though not everybody has seen it yet," said Rosemary Melville, deputy district director for the Los Angeles district office, which handles seven counties, including Ventura.

She said the agency's staff has been beefed up and is whittling down a backlog of cases.

Fees will go up Oct. 13 to comply with new federal guidelines requiring agencies to charge the full cost of their services.

Application fees for green cards will jump from $130 to $220, work permits from $70 to $100 and visas for relatives from $80 to $110. On Jan. 15, the cost of citizenship applications will increase from $95 to $225.

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