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

Section By Section of Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 3231

“The Barbara Jordan Immigration Reform and Accountability Act”


Sec. 2 Abolishment of INS; Establishment of Office of Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs

          Abolishes the INS.

          Establishes the “Office of the Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs” in the Justice Department.

          The Office is headed by the Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs (AAGIA), who is appointed by the President, with consent of the Senate; must have a minimum of 5 years experience in managing a large and complex organization; and is to be paid at level III of the Executive Schedule, like the present Associate Attorney General.

          The AAGIA oversees the work of, and supervises, the directors of the service and enforcement bureaus.

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

          The AAGIA allocates and coordinates resources involved in supporting shared support functions for the bureaus through the Office of Shared Services.


Sec. 3 Positions Within Office of Assoc. Attorney General for Immigration Affairs

          Policy Advisor - Provides advice to the AAGIA on immigration and naturalization policy; coordinates and reconciles the resolution of policy issues by the two bureaus.

          General Counsel - Serves as the principal legal advisor to the AAGIA; provides specialized legal advice, opinions, determination, regulations, and other assistance to the AAGIA on legal matters affecting the Office of the AAGIA and the two bureaus; represents the two bureaus before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and in other legal and administrative proceedings. If the AAGIA does not delegate the litigation functions of the Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) to the General Counsel, the General Counsel does not handle or advise on such matters.

          Chief Financial Officer - Responsible for financial management of the Office of the AAGIA and the two bureaus and has the authority and functions described in section 902 of title 31, U.S. Code; collect all payments, fines, and other debts for the bureaus; and coordinates all budget and other financial management issues with the bureaus.

          Director of Shared Services - Responsible for the appropriate allocation and coordination of resources involved in supporting shared functions for the bureaus, including facilities management; information resources management, including computer databases and information technology; records and file management; and forms management.

          Office of the Ombudsman - Reports directly to the AAGIA and shall have a background in customer service and immigration law. Further described in section 5 below.

          Office of Professional Responsibility and Quality Review - Responsible for conducting investigations of non-criminal allegations of misconduct, corruption and fraud by any employee of the Office of the AAGIA and the two bureaus that are not subject to investigation by the DOJ Inspector General; inspects the operations of the Office of the AAGIA and the bureaus and provides assessments of the quality of operations of each unit; provides analysis of the management of the three components.

          Office of Children’s Affairs - The Director of the Children’s Affairs Office coordinates and implements law and policy for unaccompanied alien children; ensures that the interests of such children are considered in decisions relating to the care and custody of the children; makes placement determination for unaccompanied alien children; implements the placement determinations of such children; implements policies regarding the care and detention of children; identifies qualified persons, entities, and facilities to house unaccompanied alien children; oversees such facilities; reunites unaccompanied alien children with a parent abroad; compiles, updates, and publishes a list of child professionals qualified to provide guardian and attorney representation services; maintains statistical information on such children; and conducts investigations and inspections of facilities in which children reside.

          Functions of Office of Immigration Litigation - The litigation functions performed by the Office of Immigration Litigation are transferred from the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, to the AAGIA, as well as all personnel, infrastructure and funding. The AAGIA has the option of charging the General Counsel with such functions.

          The AAGIA may impose disciplinary action, including termination of employment, for any employee of the Office of the AAGIA and the two bureaus who willfully deceives the Congress or agency leadership on any matter, pursuant to the policies and procedures applicable to FBI employees.


Sec. 4 Establishment of Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services

          Establishes the “Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services” (BCIS) in the Justice Department.

          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.

          The Director establishes policies for performing the bureaus functions; oversees the administration of such policies; advises the AAGIA regarding policies and operations of the bureau that may affect the Bureau of Immigration Enforcement; meets regularly with the Ombudsman; establishes procedures giving a formal response to any recommendations submitted in the Ombudsman’s annual report to Congress.

          The Director designates an official to be responsible for administering student visa programs and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and successor programs and systems until at least September 30, 2004. The Director provides any information collected by the SEVIS to the Director of the Bureau of Immigration Enforcement necessary for enforcement functions.

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

          Establishes the Office of Policy and Strategy in the BCIS, which is headed by the Chief of the Office of Policy and Strategy. The Chief establishes national immigration services policies and priorities; performs policy research and analysis on immigration services issues; and coordinates immigration policy issues with the enforcement bureau’s policy office and the AAGIA’s policy office.

          Permits establishment of a Legal Advisor for the BCIS.

          Establishes the Chief Budget Officer for the BCIS, who formulates and executes the budget for the bureau, and provides information to, and coordinates resolution of issues with, the CFO for the AAGIA.

          Establishes the Office of Congressional, Intergovernmental, and Public Affairs, headed by the Chief of the Office, who provides information regarding immigration services to the Congress; serves as a liaison with other federal agencies on immigration services issues; and responds to media and public inquiries on immigration services issues.

          Establishes the Office of Citizenship, headed by the Chief, who promotes instruction and training on citizenship responsibilities for aliens interested in becoming naturalized U.S. citizens, including the development of educational materials.

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

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

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


Sec. 5 Office of the Ombudsman

          Assists individuals and employers in resolving problems they have encountered with the BCIS to provide an alternative to congressional immigration caseworkers.

          Proposes changes in administrative practices of the BCIS to make it provide better service to legal immigrants.

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

          Gives guidance to local offices of the Ombudsman.

          Meet regularly with the BCIS Director.


Sec. 6 Establishment of Bureau of Immigration Enforcement

          Establishes the “Bureau of Immigration Enforcement” (BIE) in the Justice Department.

          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.

          The Director establishes policies for performing the bureaus functions; oversees the administration of such policies; advises the AAGIA regarding policies and operations of the bureau that may affect the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

          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.

          Establishes the Office of Policy and Strategy in the BIE, which is headed by the Chief of the Office. The Chief establishes national immigration enforcement policies and priorities; performs policy research and analysis on immigration enforcement issues; and coordinates immigration policy issues with the service bureau’s policy office and the AAGIA’s policy office.

          Permits establishment of a Legal Advisor for the BIE.

          Establishes the Chief Budget Officer for the BIE, who formulates and executes the budget for the bureau, and provides information to, and coordinates resolution of issues with, the CFO for the AAGIA.

          Establishes the Office of Congressional, Intergovernmental, and Public Affairs, headed by the Chief of the Office, who provides information regarding immigration enforcement to the Congress; serves as a liaison with other federal agencies on immigration enforcement issues; and responds to media and public inquiries on immigration enforcement issues.

          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. 7 Office of Immigration Statistics within Bureau of Justice Statistics 

          Establishes within the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics an Office of Immigration Statistics, headed by a Director who is appointed by the Attorney General and reports to the Director of Justice Statistics.

          The Director maintains all immigration statistical information of the Office of the AAGIA, the two bureaus, and EOIR; such statistical information shall include information and statistics of the type contained in the INS’ Statistical Yearbook.

          The Director establishes standards of reliability and validity for immigration statistics collected by the Office of the AAGIA, the two bureaus, and EOIR.


Sec. 8 Exercise of Authorities

          Preserves the Attorney General’s authority over the Office of AAGIA and the two bureaus.

          Preserves the powers, authorities, and duties of the Secretary of State.


Sec. 9 Savings Provisions

          Continues in effect all legal documents, proceedings, suits, actions, administrative procedure and judicial review that were in effect prior to enactment of H.R. 3231.


Sec. 10 Transfer and Allocation of Appropriations and Personnel

          Transfers functions, personnel, assets, liabilities to the AAGIA for allocation to the appropriate component or bureau.

          Requires the AAGIA to ensure that the Office’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 Authorization of Appropriations; Prohibition on Transfer of Fees; Leasing or Acquisition of Property; Sense of Congress

          Authorizes appropriated sums to abolish the INS and establish the Office of AAGIA and the two bureaus.

          Establishes a separate account, known as the “Immigration Reorganization Transition Account” to abolish the INS, transfer functions, and create the Office of AAGIA and the bureaus.

          Requires separate accounts in the Treasury for appropriated funds available for the BCIS and the BIE.

          Requires the Director of OMB to separate budget requests for the BCIS and the BIE to ensure that each component is funded to the extent necessary.

          Prohibits the transfer of fees between the service and enforcement bureaus.

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

          Sense of Congress that the missions of the Office of the AAGIA, the BCIS, and the BIE are equally important and should be adequately funded and each should receive at least the current level of funding.

          Eliminates the limitation on expenditures for backlog reduction found in the Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvements Act of 2000.


Sec. 12 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 and every 6 months thereafter until the end of FY 2005.

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

          Requires the Attorney General to report on whether the Director of Shared Services is properly serving the two bureaus; whether it would be more efficient to transfer more functions down to the bureaus or up to the Office of AAGIA, and the cost of such transfers within 3 years 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 Office of AAGIA and the bureaus have improved within 4 years from the effective date of transfer of functions.


Sec. 13 Application of Internet Based Technologies

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

          Calls for the eventual electronic filing of immigration applications.


Sec. 15 Effective Date; Transition

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

          Permits the AAGIA to perform the policy, legal and liaison functions of the bureaus for both bureaus during the 18-month period after the transfer of functions takes effect.



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