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Citizenship applicants flood local, state offices

May 01, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — There was nowhere near the number of people waiting in line in Calexico as there were in San Diego and Los Angeles, where thousands waited for hours to file immigration applications before the midnight Monday deadline.

According to Michael Freeman, ports director for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service here, only 10 applications were received in the extra eight-hour span the office stayed open last night.

The old downtown port building, which is used as an immigration administration building, was open from 4-midnight Monday.

"I figured it cost me $150 per application because of the overtime I had to pay," Freeman said this morning.

Freeman said he kept the offices open the extra hours so procrastinators could get their applications postmarked and their $1,000 fee received before the deadline.

While only a few applications were received here in comparison to the thousands filed in other parts of the country Monday, Freeman said it was worth it if it reunites a family.

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"The purpose of the act was to bring together families," Freeman said.

The act that sparked the last- minute rush is called the Legal Immigration Family Equity act. It gave legal U.S. residents the chance to file immigration paperwork on behalf of a family member living in the U.S. illegally.

The time frame connected to the act ended at midnight Monday.

Freeman said his staff is now reviewing the more than 80 applications the office received in the past few days and said 99 percent would be approved.

"The impact last night was minimal," Freeman said. "Here it had been more of a steady thing, 30 to 40 applications a day."

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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