A call for reform

"There is no debate as to whether the INS must be reformed," Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar told the House Judiciary Committee April 9.

The Justice Department unveiled a plan last fall to divide the agency into two bureaus — a Bureau of Immigration Enforcement, which would protect the nation's borders, and a Bureau of Immigration Services, which would handle services such as applications for citizenship or asylum, changes in visa status and the like.

But members of the House Judiciary Committee argue that the plan does not go far enough.

Republicans and Democrats alike voted 32-2 April 10 to abolish the current INS and create two independent bureaus. The jobs of the bureaus — enforcement and services — would be similar to their tasks under Justice's plan. Bureau leaders would report to an assistant attorney general rather than the INS commissioner.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who sponsored the bill to abolish INS, said the agency "has reorganized itself numerous times in the past two decades, but is still in a deep quagmire. I don't think any additional attempt at internal reorganizing can pull the INS out of this morass in which it finds itself."

A third overhaul plan is expected to be introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). His bill would split the service into two agencies. Kennedy's plan calls for an independent administrator appointed by the president to manage the two immigration bureaus.

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