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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

“The Immigration Reform and Accountability Act”


Sec. 2 Abolishment of INS; Establishment of Agency for Immigration Affairs

          Abolishes the INS

          Establishes the “Agency for Immigration Affairs” in the Justice Department

          The Agency is headed by the Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs (AAGIA), who is appointed by the President, with consent of the Senate; reports directly to the Attorney General; and must have a minimum of 10 years experience in managing a large and complex organization

          The AAGIA oversees the work of, and supervises, the directors of the service and enforcement bureaus, as well as the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which includes the immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

          The AAGIA reviews decisions of the BIA on referral

          The AAGIA coordinates the administration of national immigration policy, including coordinating the operations of the EOIR, the two bureaus, and reconciles conflicting policies of the three components


Sec. 3 Officers of Agency for Immigration Affairs

          Policy Advisor

          Legal Advisor

          Chief Financial Officer

          Office of Shared Services

          Office of the Ombudsman

          Office of Professional Responsibility and Quality Review


Sec. 4 Establishment of Bureau of Immigration Services and Adjudications

          Establishes the “Bureau of Immigration Services and Adjudications” (BISA) in the Agency

          The Bureau is headed by the Director who reports directly to the AAGIA and must have a minimum of 10 years experience in adjudications of government benefits, at least 5 of which must be management experience

          Transfers the following adjudication functions, personnel, infrastructure, and funding from the INS Commissioner to the BISA Director: nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions; naturalization petitions; asylum and refugee applications; Service center adjudications; all other adjudications

          Transfers functions performed by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, all personnel, infrastructure, and funding from the DOJ Civil Rights Division to the BISA Director

          Transfers functions performed by the Office of Immigration Litigation relating to litigation of naturalization, immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, all personnel, infrastructure, and funding in support of those functions from the DOJ Civil Division to the BISA Director

          Establishes the Office of Policy and Strategy in the BISA, which is headed by the Chief of the Office of Policy and Strategy

          Establishes the General Counsel for the BISA

          Establishes the Chief Budget Officer for the BISA

          Establishes the Office of Operations Statistics for the BISA, headed by the Chief of the Office of Operations Statistics

          Establishes the Office of Congressional, Intergovernmental, and Public Affairs, headed by the Chief of the Office

          Requires the BISA to establish sectors in appropriate geographic locations, headed by sector directors.

          Requires the BISA to establish field offices, headed by field directors, accountable to the BISA Director to ensure consistent application and implementation of policies nationwide. Field Directors can be fired or transferred.

          Requires the BISA to establish Service Centers, headed by directors to do functions effectively carried out at remote locations


Sec. 5 Office of the Ombudsman

          Assists individuals in resolving problems with the BISA to take pressure off congressional caseworkers

          Proposes changes in administrative practices of the BISA

          Submits annual report to the Judiciary Committees summarizing initiatives, serious problems, recommendations

          Give guidance to local offices of the Ombudsman

          Meet regularly with the BISA Director


Sec. 6 Establishment of Bureau of Immigration Enforcement

          Establishes the “Bureau of Immigration Enforcement” (BIE) in the Agency

          The Bureau is headed by the Director who reports directly to the AAGIA and must have a minimum of 10 years experience in law enforcement, at least 5 of which must be management experience

          Transfers the following functions, personnel, infrastructure, and funding from the INS Commissioner to the BIE Director: Border Patrol; detention and removal; intelligence; investigations; and inspections

          Transfers functions performed by the Office of Special Investigations, all personnel, infrastructure, and funding from the DOJ Criminal Division to the BIE Director

          Transfers functions performed by the Office of Immigration Litigation relating to litigation of orders of exclusion, deportation, and removal, denials of relief from them, petitions seeking review of employer sanctions, habeas corpus, appeals from district court immigration decisions, suits challenging immigration policy and enforcement actions by the Attorney General, all personnel, infrastructure, and funding in support of those functions from the DOJ Civil Division to the BIE Director

          Establishes the Office of Policy and Strategy in the BIE, which is headed by the Chief of the Office

          Establishes the General Counsel for the BIE

          Establishes the Chief Budget Officer for the BIE

          Establishes the Office of Operations Statistics for the BIE, headed by the Chief of the Office

          Establishes the Office of Congressional, Intergovernmental, and Public Affairs, headed by the Chief of the Office

          Requires the BIE to establish sectors in appropriate geographic locations, headed by sector directors

          Requires the BIE to establish field offices, headed by field directors, accountable to the BIE Director to ensure consistent application and implementation of policies nationwide. Field directors can be fired or transferred.

          Requires the BIE to establish Border Patrol Sectors, headed by chief patrol agents, accountable to the BIE Director to ensure consistent application and implementation of policies nationwide. Chief Patrol Agents can be fired or transferred.  

Sec. 9 Transfer and Allocation of Appropriations and Personnel

          Requires the AAGIA to ensure that the Agency’s databases and those of the BISA and the BIE are integrated with the databases of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to permit the tracking of the status of any alien throughout the alien’s contact with immigration authorities regardless of the entity having jurisdiction over the alien


Sec. 11 Personnel Flexibilities

          Includes recruitment, retention, relocation incentives, relocation expenses, and voluntary separation incentive payments, similar to the provisions used in the IRS reform legislation


Sec. 13 Authorization of Appropriations; Prohibition on Transfer of Fees; Sense of Congress

          Establishes a separate account, known as the “Immigration Reorganization Transition Account” to abolish the INS, transfer functions, and create the new Agency

          Requires separate accounts in the Treasury for appropriated funds available for the BISA, the BIE, and EOIR

          Requires the Director of OMB to separate budget requests for the BISA, BIE, and EOIR to ensure that each component are funded to the extent necessary

          Ends the use of applying fees by visa applicants to cover the cost of asylum processing

          Sense of Congress that the missions of both the BISA and BIE are equally important and should be adequately funded and each should receive at least the current level of funding

          Authorizes appropriations for backlog reduction through fiscal year 2004


Sec. 14 Reports and Implementation Plans 

          Requires the Attorney General to report on the proposed division and transfer of funds as well as the division of personnel within 120 days from the date of enactment

          Requires the Attorney General to submit an implementation plan to carry out this Act within 120 days from the date of enactment 

          Requires the Attorney General to report on plans to improve immigration services and enforcement within 1 year from the date of enactment

          Requires the Comptroller General to report on the transition within 18 months from the effective date of transfer of functions and every 6 months thereafter

          Requires the Comptroller General to report on whether management, operations, and information and technology management under the Agency have improved within 4 years from the effective date of transfer of functions


Sec. 15 Application of Internet Based Technologies

          Requires the Attorney General to establish an internet-based system that will permit people with applications filed with the Agency to have access to online information about the processing status of the application within 1 year from the date of enactment


Sec. 17 Effective Date; Transition

          Requires the abolishment of the INS, the establishment of the Agency, the transfers of functions under this Act, and appointment of the AAGIA, the BISA Director, and the BIE Director 1 year after the date of enactment       


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