- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2001

Former Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar is expected to win easy confirmation as head of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, despite concerns by some top INS officials and others that he lacks the experience to lead the troubled agency.
Mr. Ziglar won the hearty endorsement of Democrats and Republicans last week during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a vote by the full committee is expected soon. President Bush's nominee is certain to be confirmed by the full Senate.
"I know he'll do a great job. I know he'll undertake the assignment with great vigor," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.
"All that needs to be said is 'Amen. Let's vote,'" said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
But some INS officials and immigration experts are concerned Mr. Ziglar knows little about pending immigration matters and lacks any significant experience in law enforcement to head the agency.
The officials said Mr. Ziglar, if confirmed, would need to spend several months learning about the complex immigration issues now pending before the INS and with other critical agency functions and problems before he would be able to fully assume the job as commissioner.
They said the orientation process would come when the Bush administration and Attorney General John Ashcroft are considering a proposal to split the INS into two separate agencies, one for law enforcement matters and the other for citizen services. Both would answer to a single policy official, presumably the commissioner.
One INS official noted that law enforcement was a "key component" of the INS mission, saying he was worried because of Mr. Ziglar's "lack of experience and dearth of exposure" to law enforcement efforts and demands.
Others are concerned the appointment of the former investment banker and lawyer is a sign that the Bush administration has not made the INS a top priority and that he was named to the post as a reward for the thousands of dollars he contributed to the Republican Party.
"It remains the hallmark of the low status of INS that politicians can continue to nominate people without experience to run this agency," said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
"Congress would never confirm some[one] to run the Internal Revenue Service who lacked experience in the field," he said. "Does James Ziglar have the experience to handle immigration emergencies? I can't imagine how."
Mr. Ziglar, a longtime friend of Mr. Lott's who was hired as sergeant at arms in the Senate in 1998. He oversaw a staff of 750 and an annual budget of about $120 million. At INS, he will be charged with running an agency with 35,000 employees and a $5.5 billion budget.
According to Federal Election Commission records, Mr. Ziglar gave $25,000 to help cover the costs of Mr. Bush's inauguration. He also contributed more than $70,000 to the Republican National Committee and to various Republican organizations and candidates.
The agency Mr. Ziglar will head has long been the target of scrutiny by various agencies, including the General Accounting Office and the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General. It also has been the frequent focus of oversight hearings by Congress concerning its law enforcement efforts.
Last month, for example, the Justice Department found that the INS deported violent criminal aliens unescorted on commercial airliners, placing the traveling public at "potential risk." The aliens included those who had been convicted of major crimes.
In April, INS was criticized over its failure to account for more than 61,000 items worth $70 million including 539 weapons and 12,000 laptop, desktop and notebook computers, some of which could have contained sensitive information.
The Inspector General's Office, in a report that caught the attention of Congress, said INS officials had failed to "adequately safeguard property" and concluded that "without immediate corrective action, property will remain at substantial risk."

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