- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2002

The man who killed two persons at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4 gained legal residence in the United States through a limited amnesty program that has since expired but that President Bush and Democrats in Congress want to reopen.
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who attacked the El Al Israel Airlines counter before a security guard shot and killed him, was living in the United States illegally until he applied for adjustment of status under the program, known as 245(i) from the section of immigration law where it appears.
Previous reports had said he gained legal residence upon his wife's winning a green card through the diversity visa lottery that allows 55,000 persons a year to earn immigrant visas.
His wife's green card, however, only allowed him to file a 245(i) application, which lets illegal immigrants with a qualifying family or work relationship pay a $1,000 fine and stay in the United States while they undergo the background checks needed to get a green card.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, said the July 4 shootings should be a wake-up call.
"I think the two dead bodies lying in a pool of blood at LAX on the Fourth of July should give pause to these people who've been relentlessly pushing for 245(i) enactment," Mr. Rohrabacher said.
Mr. Rohrabacher sent a letter to his colleagues yesterday telling them the shooting could have been avoided if Hadayet had been deported while living here illegally. He urged his colleagues to oppose extending 245(i) if it comes up in the House again.
Initially 245(i) was a one-time window of applications, but Congress later extended the deadline through April 2001. Now Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has introduced a bill to open another round of applications, and Mr. Bush has on several occasions urged Congress to pass such legislation.
Supporters of another extension say Mr. Rohrabacher is just trying to score political points.
"Either he's just grossly uninformed about how 245(i) works or he's cynically using a tragedy to advance his political agenda, which is really out of step with where his party is and where the country is," said Angela Kelley, deputy director at the National Immigration Forum.
According to an Immigration and Naturalization Service official who asked for anonymity, Hadayet's wife won legal residence through the diversity lottery, through which the State Department awards about 55,000 immigrant visas a year to applicants from a list of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
There are as many as 10 million applications a year.
Even though Hadayet was facing deportation proceedings, once his wife became a legal resident he could apply under 245(i) to adjust his own status as the spouse of a legal resident.
He paid the $1,000 and remained in the United States while his green card application was processed, rather than return home, which the 1996 immigration laws require. A 245(i) application is also often considered a way to remain in the country during deportation proceedings.
His application was granted on Aug. 29, 1997, the INS official said.
"There was no evidence of any terrorist or criminal activity in this individual's record when he applied for and received his adjustment of status," the official said.
U.S. authorities have not termed Hadayet's attack "terrorism," arguing that he seems to have acted alone, but Israeli officials have insisted the attack constituted terrorism.
Steven A. Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said the problem with 245(i) is twofold: Not only are the background checks more thorough in home countries, because they are done by embassies and consulates with local connections, but 245(i) applicants who are turned down in the United States can ignore the decision and the INS usually won't find them.
Hadayet reportedly had failed in an application for asylum before applying under section 245(i).
"Just like other terrorists in the past, he has exploited a host of loopholes," Mr. Camarota said. "He used a bogus asylum claim to try to remain in the United States. Once he gets turned down, he doesn't leave because we have no mechanism in place to enforce our own law."
Mrs. Kelley said the background check on applicants here in the United States, which includes a check by the FBI, a health screening and an in-person interview, is thorough.
She also said the foreign consulates that opponents want to do the checks are in many cases the same ones that issued tourist or student visas to some of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks.

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