Should Congress extend the May 4 deadline for illegal aliens to file for amnesty under the new immigration law?

With less than a month to go before the deadline expires, this nation's lawmakers are still toying with the possibility of extending it.An extension, however, would be a serious blunder.

The proposed extension is based on the argument that not enough illegal aliens have registered. But no one really knows how many aliens have been in this country for six years. Likewise, no on really knows how many don't want to go home some day.

As it is, some 1.5 million illegal aliens have filed for amnesty. That's more than the number of military personnel on active duty in the U.S., more than the number of bachelor's degrees awarded last year, more than the number of all employed persons in Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota combined.

Indeed, the current amnesty program has already adjusted the status of more illegal aliens than all other such amnesty programs in the world combined.

By May 4, illegal aliens will have had 20 months to gather the papers needed to prove they have resided in the U.S. for at least six years. Applicants for amnesty under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program will have had more than two years to pull their documents together.

An extension would encourage further delays on the part of illegal aliens by removing the motivating influence of a firm deadline. In Canada, 10 precent of all applicants for amnesty came forward on the last day of that country's program.

If the deadline is extended, the Immigration and Naturalization Service will have to pay for it by diverting funds away from efforts to curb illegal immigration.

By all means, let's stick to the May 4 deadline. Once the period for applying for amnesty is past, the government can get on with a more sensible and important part of the new immigration law the part that involves cracking down on employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.