Immigration and Naturalization Service: Restructuring Proposals in the 107th Congress [Updated December 30, 2002]   [open pdf - 102KB]

The events of September 11, 2001 brought the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to the forefront of the nation's attention. Although all 19 hijackers entered the country legally, three overstayed their visas. And, on March 11, 2002, INS sent student visa notifications for two of the (now deceased) 19 hijackers to the aviation school they attended, provoking an intensification of long-standing criticism of INS for weak management controls, among other things. An underlying theme of criticism concerns what many believe are overlapping and unclear chains of command with respect to INS's service and enforcement functions. Current proposals to restructure INS center on separating the service and enforcement functions either by keeping INS intact and creating two separate bureaus to carry out the functions, or by dismantling INS and reassigning the functions to DOJ and other agencies or a newly created department of homeland security. How will the separate entities expeditiously share information? Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has proposed merging at least three agencies that are responsible for providing border security into a "super agency." All of these proposals would address concerns of overlap in functions, and related duplication of efforts; lack of communication and coordination of efforts; and the rivalry that reportedly exists between INS and agencies with similar responsibilities. The Act transfers INS' immigration service and enforcement functions to a new DHS into two separate Bureaus.

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CRS Report for Congress, RL31388
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