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November 6, 2001

Gekas Introduces INS Restructuring Bill

Legislation needed to fix longstanding problems in agency

Washington, D.C.--Congressman George W. Gekas (R-Pa.) introduced today new legislation that will overhaul the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The “Immigration Reform and Accountability Act,” co-authored by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), will restructure the INS into two separate bureaus.

“The rationale for this important legislation is founded on the conclusions of the 1997 report by the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and by the tragedies of September 11 which have exposed considerable flaws in our immigration system,” said Gekas.

The legislation calls for a split of the INS into two bureaus---one for border enforcement and the other for immigration processing. “The INS is suffering from mission overload,” Gekas said. “The ease and efficiency of modern transportation has created a flow of foreigners to our shores that is beyond the capacity of the INS to process and monitor.”

The newly formed INS bureaus would be managed by the “Agency for Immigration Affairs,” a new office to be created within the Justice Department. “We must elevate the INS to the level of importance it deserves,” said Gekas. “The new oversight office will have the experience and the support needed to effectively manage the overwhelming tasks of immigration processing and border control. The safety of our citizens, no matter where they were born, is paramount.”

The bill also creates the new position of Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs. This will bring uniformity to immigration policy by funneling reporting to one office in the Justice Department instead of multiple authorities.

“The Immigration Reform and Accountability Act brings responsibility to a service that has spiraled out of control,” Gekas said. “We fault not the hardworking people at the INS, but the inefficient system which suffers from a lack of human resources, modern technology and an overwhelming, though not always clearly stated, task. Our legislation lays out the blueprint for a stronger and more effective agency.”