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[Congressional Record: May 25, 2000 (Extensions)]
[Page E869]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                            DISTRICT OFFICE


                           HON. DOUG BEREUTER

                              of nebraska

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, May 25, 2000

  Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, this Member would commend to his 
colleagues the following editorial from the May 12, 2000, edition of 
the Omaha World-Herald.
  As the editorial correctly notes, the Omaha District Office of the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which serves Nebraska and 
Iowa, has experienced a dramatic increase in demand for the services it 
provides. Despite the on-going efforts of the Nebraska and Iowa 
Congressional Delegations, on behalf of their constituents, to bring 
attention to this untenable situation and also to the lack of resources 
committed to the enforcement of immigration laws in this country's 
interior states, INS officials at the Federal and regional levels 
remain unresponsive. This Member and several of his colleagues from 
Nebraska and Iowa feel that the problems must now be addressed through 
the appropriations process.
  This Member hopes that his colleagues in the House of Representatives 
will favorably review the requests outlined in the editorial and that 
they will increase assistance to INS operations not only in Nebraska 
and Iowa but in this country's interior region as a whole.

              [From the Omaha World-Herald, May 12, 2000]

                          Show Them the Money

       The figures are as solid as they are daunting: The Omaha 
     office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service has a 
     backlog of more than 5,000 cases. Over the last five years, 
     it has seen a 400 percent increase in the number of documents 
     processed. Workloads like that can't be handled with smoke 
     and mirrors. Warm bodies must be in place, and that place 
     needs to be safe and efficient. Some members of Congress 
     clearly understand the problem, and they are commendably 
     committed to solving it.
       Last week the entire Nebraska congressional delegation, 
     joined by Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, wrote to colleagues whose 
     committees oversee spending for the INS. The request was for 
     them to earmark enough money (about $119,000 yearly) to add 
     two immigration information officers and two clerical 
     positions to the local office.
       This request for a direct appropriation wouldn't have been 
     necessary if Mark Reed, director of the INS Central Region, 
     had responded to these officials' 1999 request to flesh out 
     the office's ability to respond to public needs. It's hard to 
     fathom why he didn't.
       Now, Nebraska's three House members have approached the 
     chair of the appropriate subcommittee about getting a one-
     time injection of $2 million to relocate the Omaha INS branch 
     to new quarters, possibly near Eppley Airfield.
       If the lawmakers are successful in these efforts, that will 
     address the local agency's two biggest problems: a personnel 
     shortage and an inadequate physical plant. It's about time 
     something was done. The modern-day trend toward more and more 
     newcomers argues that from an operational standpoint, things 
     are likely to get worse before they get better.
       For years, the local INS has operated piecemeal out of four 
     buildings, the main one being at 3736 South 132nd St. Until 
     last fall, clients had to wait outside in all kinds of 
     weather. That was addressed when the local INS officials 
     leased a 2,400-square-foot waiting area, but even that was a 
     stopgap measure. Getting the 65,000-square-foot building 
     envisioned by the local officials and community activists, 
     along with an adequate number of people to staff it, would be 
     the right thing to do.
       What the lawmakers are attempting amounts to a fiscal end-
     run, asking for improvements the INS should already have 
     requested on its own. There's no telling it will work, but 
     let's hope so. Certainly, the intentions are honorable. The 
     INS overload here has gone beyond embarrassing and is edging 
     toward intolerable.



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