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News Briefs I

Rate of Deported Criminals Falls


The rate at which illegal immigrants are being deported has more than doubled since a far-reaching immigration law took effect two years ago. But despite a key mandate to target convicted drug dealers, burglars, murderers and others who are considered particularly dangerous, the share of criminals among those deported has actually dropped to its lowest level this decade.

Less than a third of the 171,816 people deported last year had been convicted of a crime, according to new Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) statistics. Most of the others were caught living in or trying to enter the country illegally. By contrast, two-thirds of those deported in 1994 were convicted felons.

Nearly three years after Congress launched what it called the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in a generation, the INS’s handling of criminal aliens has emerged as one of the most controversial aspects of the new mandate. The law was aimed at reducing the number of illegal immigrants generally, but it ran into resistance from Democrats wary of potential abuses and from business leaders concerned that tougher immigration enforcement could reduce the labor pool. The law’s GOP backers overcame those concerns in part by placing a high priority on criminals.

Republicans argued that they could cut the crime rate -- and save hundreds of millions of dollars in detention costs -- by deporting more foreign criminals, notably illegal immigrants who frequently evaded detection by the INS after serving their jail sentences.

Since then, the INS has scooped up many more criminals than before. Of the convicts who were deported last year, about 5,500 had legal status, and many had to leave behind American spouses or children. The majority had been convicted of some type of drug charge.

Drug Boosts Cancer Survival Rate


The latest followup results from a clinical trial of women with advanced breast cancer shows that a new blockbuster drug continues a trend in increasing survival.

Dr. Dennis Slamon, a UCLA cancer researcher said Monday that Herceptin, a drug approved last year to treat breast cancer that has spread, reduced the risk of death in test patients by 22.4 percent. “These women were dying of their disease,” Slamon said.

The patients were participating in the last phase of a multicenter trial designed to test the impact of Herceptin on survival. Herceptin is derived from a cloned antibody that recruits the body’s immune system in the battle against cancer. It is aimed at metastatic breast cancer in women who also have a noninherited mutation in a gene called HER-2/neu.

A Long March for the Press Corps


It seemed to veteran reporters that Thursday’s news conference by President Clinton and Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji was never going to end. It was scheduled for only 30 minutes, but Zhu, as he always does, insisted on consecutive translation as he went on and on. At one point, reporters laughed as Clinton sneaked a peek at his watch. The president had to reassure a worried translator the laughter was not directed at any gaffe on her part.

But while the conference lasted an hour and 24 minutes -- likely the longest bilateral news conference -- the gathering was not the longest of the Clinton presidency.

That honor belongs to a 1-hour, 34-minute spellbinder back in December 1997 -- before Monicagate sent him dodging the press. Even so, this one, in the suffocating heat of OEOB 450 -- recently renamed Presidential Hall, to make visiting heads of state feel better -- was long enough. “It was agony,” said one veteran reporter.