- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2001

The nomination of Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar to head the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has drawn skepticism from some top INS officials and immigration experts who question whether he has the necessary experience and background to lead the troubled agency.
There is concern that Mr. Ziglar knows too little about pending immigration issues and has too little experience in law enforcement.
Some critics are worried that the appointment of the former investment banker and lawyer named to the INS post in April by President Bush is a signal the Bush administration has not put a top priority on the INS. Others question whether the nomination was a reward for Mr. Ziglars contribution of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party and a $25,000 donation to the Bush inauguration.
"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 someone to run the Internal Revenue Service who lacked experience in the field."
"Does James Ziglar have the experience to handle immigration emergencies? I cant imagine how," Mr. Stein said, adding that FAIR remained "hopeful" Mr. Ziglar would bring management experience to an agency he described as "out of control."
Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said of the Ziglar nomination that her organization "welcomed someone who has good management skills" but said she was concerned over Mr. Ziglars lack of experience in pending immigration issues.
"Part of the challenge facing INS is getting its system sorted out, and it concerns me that he has no immigration background," she said. "I am hopeful he will bring in a good team to assist him. We approach this with an open mind and hope to be able to work with him."
Several high-ranking INS officials said they had concerns that Mr. Ziglar, if confirmed, would need to spend several months familiarizing himself with the complex immigration matters now pending before the agency and with other critical INS functions before being able to fully assume the job as commissioner.
They said the familiarization process would come at a time that the Bush administration and Attorney General John Ashcroft have proposed splitting INS into two separate and distinct agencies, one for law enforcement matters and the other for citizen services. Both units would answer to a single policy official, presumably the commissioner.
The proposed restructuring is expected to be vigorously debated on Capitol Hill.
Another top INS official said there also were concerns about his lack of experience in law enforcement, which he noted was a "key component of what we do here."
INS has long been the target of federal inquiries over suspected operation and management problems, and has come under scrutiny by Congress over its law enforcement efforts.
In April, for example, the agency was criticized in a report by the Justice Departments Office of Inspector General for its inability to account for hundreds of weapons and thousands of computers. Just last week, the Justice Department said violent criminal aliens were being deported by INS from the United States unescorted aboard commercial airliners, placing the traveling public at "potential risk." The aliens included individuals who had been convicted of major crimes.
Mr. Ziglar, hired as sergeant at arms in the Senate in 1998, currently oversees 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 overseeing a $5.5 billion budget.
According to Federal Election Commission records, Mr. Ziglar gave $25,000 to help cover the costs of Mr. Bushs inauguration. The records show he contributed more than $70,000 to the Republican National Committee and to various GOP organizations and candidates.

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