Up Front: BORDER PATROL
ALIEN INVASION OR REVENUE GRAB?
AIRLINES, LATELY MORE diligent about keeping passport- and visa-less aliens from scamming their way into the country, aren't getting much credit from Congress. Many lawmakers want to raise the fine--from $3,000 to $5,000--that carriers pay each time Immigration & Naturalization Service officials discover an undocumented foreigner. Since 1992, revenue from fines has dropped 37%, to $13.4 million last year, as the airlines screened passengers more effectively. Grouses William Noonan, an Air Transport Assn. spokesman: "They may be trying to get the revenue back up."
Lawmakers say they want to goad foreign airlines--seen as less watchful than U.S. ones--into cracking down on all the dodges. A common ploy: A foreigner boards the plane using fake papers that won't withstand Immigration scrutiny, ditches them before landing, and once on U.S. soil, demands political asylum.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Christina Del Valle