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False amnesty rumors cause jam at Denver INS office

The Associated Press, March 18, 2002

DENVER (AP) -- False rumors of an immigration amnesty prompted hundreds of foreigners to line up at federal offices last week to obtain forms that didn't exist.

The miscommunication - perhaps from the Spanish-language media - led some illegal immigrants to believe that they could apply for residency without having to leave the United States. "Rumors of an amnesty are flying everywhere," said Nina Pruneda-Muniz, of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Denver. "We're asking people to be patient with us. If people come in for a packet, we tell them there's nothing to give them."

The confusion apparently began when the U.S. House of Representatives last week approved an extension to the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act.

More than 600,000 illegal immigrants - many here on expired work visas - had been eligible to apply for visas without leaving the United States, but the deadline for doing so expired in April 2001.

The House voted to extend the window until Nov. 30, or four months after the regulations are issued, whichever comes first.

However, the bill has not yet received final approval.