INS: Splitting agency would harm info tech

A bill that would remove border control duties from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and place them in a new agency is speeding its way through Congress. But some observers say the bill could undo vital information links the federal government uses to process immigrants. Rep. Hal Rogers (

A bill that would remove border control duties from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and place them in a new agency is speeding its way through Congress. But some observers say the bill could undo vital information links the federal government uses to process immigrants.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) last month introduced a bill to divest INS of its duties to fight illegal immigration by placing those responsibilities in a new agency called the Bureau of Enforcement and Border Affairs, which would be part of the Justice Department. The bill, H.R. 4264, would leave the INS with the responsibility to naturalize immigrants and grant benefits to legal immigrants.

"The INS is an agency that despite the best of intentions, is designed to fail," Rogers said in a prepared statement. "The agency has conflicting missions, and, in the words of the Commission on Immigration Reform, it is on 'mission overload.' "

Two Missions?

At issue is INS' dual missions of enforcing the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico and granting immigrant benefits. Critics argue that the two missions conflict because INS must play the role of tough defender of the nation's borders while also playing the role of the friendly host who naturalizes legal immigrants.

The two roles, critics say, are often played out against a backdrop of election-year political pressure, in which defending borders helps those candidates from border states and naturalizing more citizens tends to help other candidates.

But INS officials and other immigration experts say separating the enforcement mission from the services mission could imperil the sharing of data that INS officials use to support border control efforts, naturalize citizens and grant benefits.

In a technology exposition for congressmen and their staffs last year, INS officials highlighted technology as an example of how the two functions of enforcement and services were complementary. For example, INS computer systems provide enforcement workers with information they use to conduct background checks and verify identities while also giving other INS staff members information to make sure that only eligible immigrants receive benefits.

"The problem with the approach is that it doesn't integrate the functions until you get to the attorney general, and the attorney general realistically will not have the time for coordinating those functions on a day-to-day basis as those functions require," said Julie Anbender, acting director of public affairs at INS. "We don't believe that the technology systems and the recordkeeping functions are as integrated as they need to be in the Rogers proposal."

The bill has cleared the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and now is in the House Judiciary Committee. But no similar measure has been introduced in the Senate.

The bill already has drawn sharp criticism from advocates of tough immigration policy such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

K.C. McAlpin, deputy director of FAIR, said the bill will not necessarily solve the problem of poor enforcement of immigration laws. "We don't really buy this idea that there's a dual mission for INS," he said. "It's one integrated mission."

Sharing of Information

McAlpin said INS, as part of its responsibility to determine who should be granted citizenship, needs information on people who try to enter the country illegally. "You can't know if somebody is deserving of becoming a legal immigrant, say, if they've been arrested five times for trying to break our immigration laws," he said.

But Susan Zimmerman, spokeswoman for Rogers, said the new bureau would not necessarily make sharing of such information more difficult. "The bill would give the [Justice Department] the responsibility for ensuring that the INS and the [bureau] coordinate and share information," she said. "Rogers for quite some time has preached this idea of there needing to be seamless communication between all our law enforcement agencies.... He recognizes that there is data, that there will need to be a way to coordinate and share that information."

Language in the bill authorizes the attorney general to fund and/or coordinate shared support functions for the new bureau and INS. "Such shared support functions may include information resources management, human resources and training, security, records and forms management, equal-opportunity activities, facilities and procurement administration, and budgeting." According to the bill, "The attorney general shall maintain oversight and control over the shared computer databases and systems and records management."

Making a transition to that level of sharing between INS and the new bureau may be cumbersome, but Richard Estrada, a member of the bipartisan Commission on Immigration Reform, which recently dissolved after issuing a final report that recommended breaking up INS' functions, said the added work would be worth it.

"I think it certainly does make sense to move in this direction as rapidly as possible," said Estrada, who is associate editor of The Dallas Morning News editorial page. "It is worth the pain because any time that you can bring clarity and focus to the mission of an agency, then the American people are better served."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.