- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

Dividing the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the new Homeland Security Department has pleased agency critics but angered pro-immigration groups.
The House last week finalized the legislation and sent it to President Bush for his signature. It creates the Bureau of Immigration Enforcement to guard borders and enforce immigration laws.
It also establishes the Bureau of Immigration Services to provide immigration benefits and process naturalization and permanent residence applications.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is an ardent critic of the INS, and Dan Stein, executive director, says the division of duties will strengthen border security.
"It shifts the burden back on aliens to prove they have a right to enter the country, and a wholesale rethinking at the executive level on how to deter unlawful conduct," Mr. Stein said.
"I'm hopeful that this is a revolution in the philosophy of immigration management," Mr. Stein said.
Angela Kelly, deputy director of the National Immigration Forum, says the Homeland Security legislation is a sweeping bill that swallows the entire service and threatens to slow the process by six months for immigrants.
"All eyes will be on the administration and the new department to see if the backlogs and delays for which the INS was infamous are made better or worse," Mrs. Kelly said. "We fear that the way immigration services are structured in the Department of Homeland Security could be a recipe for disaster, where the cure is worse than the disease."
The National Immigration Forum is an umbrella group of pro-immigration groups including the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization.
Raul Yzaguirre, La Raza president, said his group has lobbied for years for restructuring but the changes do not amount to reform.
"We believe that the failure of Congress to include significant changes in the way INS conducts its business will not only further exacerbate the fundamental problems of a deeply flawed agency, but also compromise our nation's security at a time we can least afford it," Mr. Yzaguirre said.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association also criticized the move, saying it failed to provide a statutory framework for the role of immigration courts.
"This is especially important because in the majority of immigration cases the immigration courts provide the only opportunity to review the decisions of low-level immigration officers. Immigration judges offer critical protections against mistakes or malfeasance," said Jeannie Butterfield, executive director.
Mr. Stein said the service was transformed during the Carter and Clinton administrations, making it easier for immigrants to obtain citizenship.
"The role of the agency became a Santa Claus rolling out the benefits, and the number of people coming in swelled dramatically" Mr. Stein said.
"This is not about cheap labor, immigration lawyers, hotels, tourism or ethnic lobbyists, it's about public safety and national security," Mr. Stein said.
James W. Ziglar is the current commissioner of the INS but will retire at the end of the year. He says creation of the new department is critical to secure the nations borders.
"By moving the enforcement of the nation's immigration laws to a much larger agency, the border enforcement effort will be enhanced with important new resources and strength," Mr. Ziglar said.


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