• Kyodo

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The head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Portland, Ore., who has been under fire for the agency’s unfair treatment of Asian travelers, mostly Japanese, will step down in two weeks, the INS announced Tuesday.

An INS official announced the resignation of 55-year-old David Beebe, who is in charge of INS operations at Portland International Airport, saying, “the decision to retire was his and his alone.”

He added, however, that a team of experts had recommended improving INS customer service, employee training and community relations.

Congress had asked for the resignation of Beebe following growing discontent among visitors to the United States and a call by the Japanese Consulate General in Portland for a review of entry procedures.

Beebe’s retirement takes effect Oct. 3, according to the INS.

The number of entry denials to foreigners at the airport had risen significantly since 1998.

Last year, about 450 people, mostly Japanese, were denied entry to the U.S. at the airport — an average of 2.78 people per 1,000 travelers. The figure is more than 10 times the 0.25 average recorded at San Francisco airport.

Japanese travelers who hoped to visit the U.S. figure prominently in such refusals in Portland since the only international flights into the city are from Japan and Canada.

Kiyoe Nakamine, a 32-year-old woman who was sent back to Osaka, has formed a group for Japanese who were refused entry via Portland, claiming to have suffered psychological and financial damage due to allegedly discriminatory questioning by immigration officials.

Nakamine has said some Japanese travelers sent back from Oregon received heavy-handed treatment from Oregon immigration officials, including threats and a night in jail for some.

Some members of her group were denied entry to visit family members and slapped with 10-year bans on visa applications, including those for business trips, according to Nakamine.

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