In an attempt to gain the confidence of illegal aliens, immigration officials have unveiled a media campaign aimed at convincing potential applicants for amnesty that the legalization procedure will not be used to deport them.
Potential applicants under the new immigration law will soon be hearing a special message on radio and television from Harold Ezell, Western regional commissioner for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, assuring them that they can safely participate in the proceedings.
In another special message to be broadcast throughout the West, Ezell will caution employers that they should not respond to the new law by indiscriminately firing employees who have a foreign appearance or accent.
The 30-second public information commercials will air around March 1 on radio and television stations throughout California, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and Guam, John Belluardo, director of congressional and public affairs for the INS Western region, said Monday.
The spots are intended to accelerate an educational effort about the new law that was mandated by Congress when it passed the measure in November, Belluardo said.
He said that national INS headquarters in Washington is putting together a nationwide publicity campaign about the new law but that Ezell wanted to get an interim program going now.
"The spots are an excellent vehicle to demonstrate our intention to provide the best information as quickly as possible so that everyone eligible (for legalized status) has an opportunity," Belluardo said. "Also, we want to avoid discrimination in the workplace."
The two spots will be translated into Spanish next week for airing on Spanish-language stations as well, Belluardo said. Ezell does not speak Spanish.
The spot on legalized status says that applications will be accepted at special INS centers beginning May 5 and that people should begin assembling work-related and other documents that can prove continued residence since at least Jan. 1, 1982, Belluardo said.
"It says specifically that information submitted will not be used to remove (applicants) from this country unless it has been falsified," Belluardo said. People now in the United States illegally but potentially eligible for the amnesty program have expressed concerns that the INS would use the process to deport them.
The announcement directed toward employers tells them that the law prohibiting the hiring of illegal aliens applies to all workers hired on or after Nov. 6 of last year, Belluardo said.
Employers have until June 1 to digest new regulations regarding verification and documentation of employees.