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INS Protocol Needs Sharper Focus

June 08, 2002

On May 28 my 76-year-old mother-in-law flew into LAX intending to visit my wife and me for a month. When she went through customs they discovered that in 1997 she had visited this country and overstayed her 90-day allotted time limit. My wife had major surgery that year and I, not knowing her mother would be violating any law, suggested that she stay a little longer. She stayed four months.

In 2001 she came to visit and stayed four weeks. However, this year they discovered this INS violation and wouldn't allow her into the country. She has a valid German passport, and she had a round-trip ticket. But the INS felt compelled to detain her at LAX for almost 24 hours, under guard. Then two guards escorted her onto a plane to Europe.

This kind of rigid and inflexible treatment of an elderly woman with a passport, a return ticket, family in this country and money in her pocket seems to me to be a silly exercise of officious bureaucracy. When we have millions of illegal aliens running loose in this country, some of them committing serious crimes, why is the INS wasting valuable man-hours on grannies from Europe?

Richard F. Westfall

West Hills

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