IMMIGRANTS SEEK TO BEAT DEADLINE.
With just a day to go before a law expires allowing immigrants without residency to stay in the country, hundreds from throughout California anxiously waited hours in line Monday to secure proper documents and avoid facing deportation.
Late Monday, the House voted to extend the deadline by three weeks. The Senate is due to take up the issue today. The Immigration and Naturalization Service is cautioning, however, that today's deadline remains in effect until Congress passes and the president signs the extension.
Anxiety was high as lines formed hours before INS offices opened.
Los Angeles federal building guards used bullhorns to keep lines organized and blared instructions to those who showed up before 5:30 a.m.
One couple said they were there to file papers on behalf of their 14-year-old daughter who moved to the United States five years ago from the Philippines.
``My whole family is here. If she has to go back, who will take care of her?'' asked Jackie, who refused to give her last name.
Most said they were there because they had so many questions, and had heard of the law but did not understand how it would affect them.
The pilot program set to expire today began three years ago. It allowed illegal immigrants to apply for residency by paying $1,000 instead of going home and applying through foreign consuls.
Those that stay in the country without formally applying may be in violation of a 1996 immigration law that took effect Saturday.
That law said anyone illegally in the country 180 days after April 1, 1997, will be deported and not allowed back into the United States. If they stay until April 1, 1998, then leave the country, they will not be allowed to return for 10 years.
``I've come to ask officers in immigration if they can tell me what I need to solve my problems,'' said Luis Mareno, 45, of Diamond Bar. He was helping his mother establish residency because she doesn't speak much English.
Originally from Peru, Mareno said it was sad for those that have established homes, families and businesses here and may now have to go back to their original countries, where they have nothing.
``A change of the law affects a lot of people,'' Mareno said.
At the San Francisco office of the INS, Issac Dughman waited for his turn to speak with officials.
``I'm worried about my family, my business, my relatives. I have so much here - I've been working here 15 years and I never had a chance to fill up an application,'' Dughman said.
Arthena Santos feared her husband would have to return to his native country.
``My three kids and I would be left without my husband, their dad. And financially we would be hurting because that's half of our income,'' Santos said.
In downtown San Diego, INS workers saw about 250 people - less than the usual 300 immigrants - who waited for the office's 7:30 a.m. opening.
INS spokesman Rudy Murillo said there's been a steady stream of applicants for the past few weeks. He said numbers actually decreased a little Monday, perhaps because most were prepared for the deadline.
``People were generally aware of this,'' Murillo said.
PHOTO (1) Immigrants lined up early Monday morning at the federal building in Westwood to beat today's deadline for a green card program.
(2 -- 3) Jonathan Chicas, at left, sleeps as his parents wait in line with thousands of other immigrants. Federal lawmakers have been working to extend the residency application program.
Gus Ruelas/Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 30, 1997|
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