Valleywide : Deadline for New 'Green Cards' Nears

Only eight days remain for legal immigrants to apply for their new "green cards."

Legal immigrants are required to replace the older version of the Alien Registration Cards--called green cards because they have green wavy lines--with new pink, computer-coded cards.

Immigration and Naturalization Service officials hope the new cards will stop the counterfeiting of the immigration documents.

After extending the deadline three times and dragging the recall program on for more than three years, INS officials vow that the March 20 deadline is final.

INS officials in the two San Fernando Valley immigrant outreach centers said they have been flooded in recent days with calls to schedule appointments, and expect the upsurge to continue as the deadline approaches.

Immigrants who fail to apply for the new document risk losing their verification status, employment and benefits, INS officials said.

To apply, legal residents must go to an INS office or an approved immigration outreach center and fill out an application. They should have two three-quarter-inch color photos, their original green card, as well as a copy of the green card, and a $75 check or money order. Those who are unable to pay the fee may apply for a waiver.

"There are definitely people who are going to be shut out either because they don't know where to go or they can't afford to take the time off from work," said Felipe Kofman, administrator for the San Juan Macias Orientation Immigrant Center in Pacoima. "I hope they know they don't have to go all the way downtown."

There are two INS-approved locations in the San Fernando Valley:

* East Valley Multipurpose Senior Center, 5000 Colfax Ave., North Hollywood, (818) 766-5165. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

* San Juan Macias Orientation Immigrant Center, 13672 Van Nuys Blvd., Pacoima, (818) 896-1156. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

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