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Federal Organizations Soft on Illegal Immigrants

  • Two separate federal entities want to make it easier for illegals to enter the country -- and to stay here.
By William Carmichael

During the last week of May, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told Arizona it couldn't build facilities to restrict illegals from entering the country from Mexico.

And at the same time, a federal court in California said it was OK for illegals to have phony Social Security cards.

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull (R) criticized the federal government for halting construction of facilities designed to discourage illegal immigration at the Arizona-Mexico border until a new environmental impact study is done.

"We are in crisis in southern Ari zona," Hull said. "People's lives, pro per ty and livelihoods are at stake, and the federal government wants another [en vironmental] study. This makes no sense."

Studies have been done to assess the impact of fences, roads and lights at the border, but the EPA wants another study to see whether the three components taken together will cause any environmental harm, agency spokes man Charles Klingberg said.

Hull said the thousands of illegal immigrants crossing into her state every month are doing far more damage than would be done by the Border Patrol.

"It is ironic that the federal government has not addressed that damage but is worried about the impact of a mile-long fence," she said.

The new study is expected to delay the project for several months.


Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled May 31 that illegal immigrants seeking to stay in the United States can't be disqualified simply because they used a fake Social Security card to work.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a San Diego woman who came to the country illegally was eligible to apply for legal residency under the 1986 amnesty law despite her conviction for using someone else's Social Security card.

The appellate court overturned an immigration judge's ruling and said Octavia Beltran Tirado, 50, did not commit a so-called "crime of moral turpitude" because she used the Social Security card only to work.

The appellate court distinguished her use of the false Social Security number from someone who would use one to commit fraud or some other crime.

Jonathan Montag, a lawyer who represented the woman, said the ruling could affect thousands of illegal immigrants because the use of false Social Security cards is widespread.

"Most people who come here illegally come here to work and if you are doing anything in the real economy you have to be using a Social Security card," Montag said.

Beltran came to the United States illegally in 1968 from Mexico. She found a Social Security card on a bus and used the number as her own from 1972 to 1991, according to court records.

She was convicted and sentenced to three months in prison and three months in a halfway house. The Immi gration and Naturalization Ser vice sought to deport her in 1993, but she applied for legal residency under the 1986 law that granted amnesty to people able to show they were living in the United States since before 1972.

Beltran, who works as a manager in a fast food restaurant, remains in the coun try while her case is pending.