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BORDER PATROL HOTLINE TO TARGET HIRING ILLEGALS.

Byline: Enrique Rivero and Amy Collins Daily News Staff Writers

U.S. Border Patrol officials soon will have another tool in cracking down on illegal aliens who are using sophisticated forged documents to get work.

A provision of the omnibus immigration bill signed into law by President Clinton last fall calls for starting a pilot system in September that allows employers to dial an 800 number to verify the authenticity of Social Security cards.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Border Patrol has stepped up its efforts against illegal immigrants, raiding local construction sites, factories and other employment places, arresting close to 200 illegals in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since the beginning of May.

But the illegal immigrants obtain employment using fake Social Security cards that fool the untrained eye, and employers have no way of checking whether they are the real thing, said Mike Molloy, a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Oxnard.

``The key here is if the employer fills out the forms correctly, which most of them do, then no fines can be instituted against the employer,'' Molloy said. ``Since the employer is off the hook, we're left with the dilemma of what we can do. We can arrest (the illegal immigrants), which is the logical thing to do.''

The provision was introduced by Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Oxnard, to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

``I think the key to this whole debate is eliminating the incentives for people to come here illegally,'' Gallegly said, adding that those incentives include welfare and other benefits footed by the taxpayer.

Though initially mandating that employers use the system to verify the documents, the amendment was ``watered down'' and now calls only for voluntary use of the system, he said.

``This member of Congress will be very vigilant in seeing which employers are using this voluntary system,'' he said.

The system should kick in Sept. 30, one year after Clinton signed the bill, he said.

Gregg Staats, the branch manager of Labor Force in Santa Clarita, said he would welcome help in verifying green cards.

``We make a good-faith effort to make sure the documents are real,'' Staats said.

``You can tell certain ones are bad,'' he said, explaining that some cards obviously have had a new picture pasted on. ``But there's probably some that are good (fakes). They may be getting by people in some of our offices.''
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 19, 1997
Words:400
Previous Article:EDITORIAL : SMALL BOY, BIG HEART.
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