- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

Border security, alien enforcement and removal, visa tracking systems and increased security for existing computer systems are the major challenges facing the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service as it prepares to move into the new Department of Homeland Security.
A management review this week by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General said the INS' ability to screen people seeking to enter the United States remained a "key element of homeland security," but investigators from the office found that the task was hampered by a lack of adequate staff, equipment and infrastructure support.
The review, issued annually to identify key management challenges, said INS staffing and resource shortages along the country's northern border continued to be a critical impediment to controlling illegal immigration and that it could take "another decade" to fully implement a new strategy of deterrence along the U.S.-Mexican border.
"The challenge of securing the nation's borders extends to how the INS processes aliens after they are apprehended," Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said, noting that a critical part of that challenge was the integration of separate fingerprint identification systems at the INS and the FBI.
Mr. Fine said integration of the INS' automated biometric fingerprint identification system and the FBI's integrated automated fingerprint identification system would improve the government's ability to identify and detain aliens wanted for crimes or those who pose a threat to the nation's security.
He also described as an "enormous challenge" the INS' ability to find and remove 7 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the United States, saying there were "many gaps" in the agency's efforts to identify aliens not eligible to remain in this country.
Mr. Fine said INS systems for tracking aliens who enter and leave the United States "clearly are inadequate" and that improving them would require substantial resources.
"This will be a daunting challenge to an agency that does not have a history of success with large technology initiatives," he said. "Even if the INS succeeds in creating effective tracking systems, it must implement an effective program for removing aliens after they have been identified."
Mr. Fine also said the INS had not determined the nationwide population of foreign-born inmates and did not have an effectively managed program to identify deportable criminal aliens being held in federal, state and local correctional facilities.
"Without this information, INS cannot properly quantify the resources it needs to fully identify and process all deportable inmates," Mr. Fine said. "We found instances where inmates not identified by the INS as potentially deportable went on to commit additional crimes, including cocaine trafficking, child molestation and aggravated assault after being released into the community."
Mr. Fine said an INS-proposed tracking system for non-immigrant entries and exits was essential to the agency's enforcement and removal responsibilities. However, he said that despite an expenditure of $31.2 million from 1996 to 2000, the INS had no clear evidence it could meet goals and the agency sought an additional $57 million through 2005 to complete the system.
Mr. Fine also said INS implementation of technology projects had been a "long-term management challenge" and that the agency had not adequately managed automation programs. He said the INS was at risk for completed projects not meeting goals, completion of the automation programs being significantly delayed and unnecessary costs.

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