STOCKTON: Faced with a glut of fraudulent amnesty applications, federal Immigration and Naturalization Service Officials have implemented new strategies for catching amnesty seekers carrying fake documents.

One technique involves putting some applicants before video cameras as they are being interviewed, in an effort to scare them into admitting their documents are fake.

INS officials say they also are contacting more employers to verify that aliens have the jobs they list on their amnesty documents.

“We want the word to get out Over the grapevine that these people (fake applicants) will be on camera and it would be better if they just didn’t show up, because We’re going to be after them,” said Loren Montgomery, newly appointed chief of Stockton’s regional INS office. “The (immigration) Service is getting serious; we didn’t realize how much fraud there was going to be.”

Under the Immigration Reform Act, foreign agricultural workers have until Nov 30 to apply for ‘work permits and permanent resident status:

Undocumented laborers can qualify for amnesty if they worked for at least 90 days in the United States at a fruit, nut or cotton farm or a plant nursery between May 1985 and May 1986.

But INS officials estimate that up to 80 percent of the documents submitted recently are fake.

Farmer’s signatures are being forged on hundreds of phony amnesty documents coming through the Stockton office, as illegal aliens make last ditch efforts to get their temporary citizenship cards.

Mary Duran, an INS adjudicator said she has started using an INS hotline for telephoning employers to verify applicant’s jobs.

Already, she has found evidence of fraud. One grower told her he has 80 workers, but she said she had hundreds of amnesty applications listing him as an employer.

In another instance the listed employer had never heard of the applicant. One grower even admitted to giving away signed amnesty documents to undocumented laborers who didn’t work for his operation.

The Stockton INS office started videotaping applicants during their interviews early this week. By Wednesday afternoon, two applicants had admitted to carrying falsified work affidavits.

Montgomery said some individuals forgers are making thousands of dollars manufacturing phony INS amnesty documents and selling them to aliens, who are desperate to apply for amnesty before the Nov. 30 deadline.

“They are forging the signatures of legitimate growers, so not only are they violating immigration laws, but they’re committing forgery, which is a felony,” he said.

In just the last week of September, 621 undocumented workers seeking amnesty visited the INS’s Stockton office, whose region extends from Merced County of the Oregon border. Of those applying, 84 percent were “recommended for denial” because they are suspected of having phony paperwork.

Montgomery believes that percentage will rise as the deadline comes closer,

The recommendations then are sent to a Southern California INS enforcement office, where it may take up to a year to investigate.

Montgomery said if an applicant admits he has phony paperwork at the Stockton office, he can be denied amnesty on the spot.

Officials ten take a sworn statement from the applicant naming the contractor who sold him the documents.

The videotapes, sworn statements and denials are forwarded to the Southern California investigation branch.

Article extracted from this publication >> October 21, 1988