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   November 2, 2001                                                                       Raj Bharwani
   536 Words                                                                                   (202) 225-5101

Sensenbrenner Introduces Bill to Restructure INS

Since the September 11th attacks, the media has widely reported that 13 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked four commercial jets on that fateful Tuesday entered the United States legally on tourist, business, or student visas.  Of this number, at least 3 allegedly remained in the U.S. after their visas had expired.

I have believed for some time now that the INS is the most dysfunctional agency in the federal government.  The events of September 11th made that even clearer and made me further realize the urgent need for a bill to restructure the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  The INS presently fails both immigrants and the American people - it does not carry out its law enforcement or service mission well.  In fact, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by the late Barbara Jordan, concluded that the INS suffered from mission overload.  It explained that the INS has responsibility for more priorities than the agency can handle.

As a result, I will introduce in the next few days an INS restructuring bill, the Immigration Reform and Accountability Act, along with my colleague Representative George Gekas, Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee.  The goal of this bill is to create a better immigration agency with clear missions, more accountability, and clear chains of command.  

The bill creates within the Justice Department an “Agency for Immigration Affairs” headed by the Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs.  This would elevate the immigration agency to the level that it deserves in the Justice Department.  My bill also establishes two bureaus under the INS: the Bureau of Immigration Services and Adjudications, and the Bureau of Immigration Enforcement. This will address our country's need for a dedicated law enforcement agency headed by a law enforcement expert to deal with border security, and criminal and illegal aliens.  We also need an agency headed by an expert in customer service to give legal immigrants and citizens the service they expect and deserve.  Under my proposal, a director with 10 years of experience in his or her respective immigration mission, including five years of management experience, would head each bureau.  Finally, the bill requires the Attorney General to establish an Internet-based system that permits people with applications filed with the INS to access online information about the status of the application.  This would cut down on the daily lines of people waiting at district offices, decrease the number of phone calls made to the INS, and prevent the loss of files.

Few people are unaware about the INS and its service problems.  Many of my constituents know how long it can take for the Milwaukee INS office to process seemingly straightforward immigration applications.  This restructuring bill offers a practical blueprint.  With good management and leadership, INS employees will be able to perform the way they should -- without jeopardizing the safety of our nation.  In keeping with the President's theme, the people who now come to visit our house, the U.S., will need to be more closely monitored to ensure they don't destroy any more of our property.  Passage of this bill will make the President's job easier.