LOCKING UP FOREIGNERSMore than 15 months after 9/11, the xenophobia triggered by terrorist attacks does not seem to be abating--at least not for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Last week, immigration authorities in LA detained 700 Muslim men. And now, with a new federal requirement that foreign visitors register with the INS by January 10, many wonder if Middle Easterners living in Portland will meet the same fate.

The arrests in LA occurred during a mandatory registration process enforced by the Justice Department to track all foreign visitors. The registration targets men aged 16 and older from seven countries with alleged ties to terrorism, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

An INS spokesperson insists that foreign visitors in LA had overstayed their visas. The spokesperson also admitted that many were tangled in the bureaucracy of visa extensions, currently backed up for six months or more.

With the January 10 deadline looming, local activists worry about Portland's foreign visitors when registration expands to other countries.

"Our concern was once the INS has this information, they were going to track people, squeezing them for information," said David Fidanque, executive director of Oregon's ACLU. "But what we're seeing in Los Angeles is they're not bothering with that intermediate step. They're just taking people into custody." JAYMEE CUTI

MORE BAD NEWSWhat a way to start the new year: On Saturday, approximately 500 Oregonians faced the complete cessation of their unemployment benefits when the federal Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (TEUC) came to an end.

Signed into law last March, TEUC provided 26 additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits for claimants who had exhausted their original 26-week claims. Since then, over 78,000 Oregonians have claimed TEUC benefits.

Intended to be a temporary fix, the program was not structured to continue after the end of the year. In that time, however, unemployment rates have not abated and Portland's economy remains in the shitter. The end of the program leaves little hope for residents who cannot replace their lost job after six months. Congress will consider reauthorizing the fund in late January. ANNA BOND