- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 24, 2001

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service is looking to present to Congress a restructuring plan that will as directed by President Bush reform the agency by creating separate divisions for service and law enforcement.
The separation of these functions, while retaining a single agency head to ensure coordination, balance and policy leadership, is aimed at helping to improve the INS' efficiency and effectiveness and, in turn, the nation's immigration system.
The restructuring plan, announced last week by Attorney General John Ashcroft and INS Commissioner James Ziglar, can be implemented administratively without legislation. It is expected to begin immediately and be accomplished by the end of fiscal 2003.
Hearings on the plan had been scheduled last week but were canceled and are now pending before the House Judiciary Committee.
Under the plan, clear and separate chains of command for the agency's service and law enforcement functions are created eliminating what Mr. Ashcroft described as "layers of management" between field offices and headquarters and promoting accountability by providing overall direction under a single agency head.
"President Bush is concerned that the INS has been hindered by the current structure of the agency to perform its responsibilities of welcoming new immigrants and protecting our borders by enforcing immigration laws," Mr. Ashcroft said. "This plan fulfills the president's goals of improving the agency and helping our nation by creating a stronger, more efficient INS."
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has said that the restructuring plan is "inadequate for truly restructuring this troubled agency."
"Quite simply, it does not go far enough for the rescue mission that is needed both on the enforcement side and immigration services side," he said. "I fear this proposal will follow its administrative restructuring predecessors in making little impact and possibly making things worse at the agency.
"We must remember that the current INS is the direct product of previous INS administrative restructuring efforts," Mr. Sensenbrenner said.
The chairman said he was "convinced" that the job of restructuring the INS can only be accomplished through legislation and has introduced legislation, along with committee member Rep. George W. Gekas, Pennsylvania Republican, to restructure the agency.
Mr. Sensenbrenner said he "continues to welcome input from the administration and others as we move this legislative priority."
The INS' pending restructuring plan contains several major elements, including:
Splitting immigration services and immigration enforcement into two separate bureaus.
Providing "clarity of function" by improving accountability and professionalism through a chain of command with specific expertise at all levels.
Maintaining a strong leader at the top and a unified office of general counsel to allow swift and decisive action in times of crisis.
Forming an integrated law enforcement organization that can respond quickly to combat terrorism, human-smuggling operations and illegal-immigration activities at the border and in the interior.
Ensuring that the agency maintains access to relevant enforcement data in adjudicating benefit applications.
Creating an ombudsman in the INS Bureau of Immigration Enforcement to provide the public with a means to communicate concerns and complaints.
Establishing the Office of Juvenile Affairs, which will report to the commissioner, to coordinate and standardize INS decision-making on issues affecting unaccompanied minors.

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