How is splitting up the INS supposed to work?

According to this AP story, the US House has voted overwhelmingly to dismantle the INS and split its functions into two different “bureaus” - one for enforncement of immigration violations as well as IDing possible immigrant threats, and another assist legitimate immigrants.

2 questions:

  1. Anybody know the quoted odds in the Senate?
  2. Just how is this supposed to improve things? What is the premise that is justifying it?

The cite makes particular reference to the power of a “bureau” as opposed to a whatever level it is now, a Service? How does that change the power structure? I also note that both bureaus will be under the control of Attorney General John Ashcroft, at least in the House version. Who controls it now?

Well, if you’ve ever dealt with the INS, you know it can’t get worse. The basic idea is to seperate the two functions you mentioned above, and with concentrated resources become more efficient.

The Service is currently a part of the Justice Department, so Ashcroft is still ostensibly in charge. I don’t know chapter and verse on the difference between bureaus and services, but presumably bureaus are higher-ranking in the Department’s hierarchy. (That would mean that the head of the bureau would probably have closer contact with Ashcroft and also more formal contact with the president if she wanted to fight Ashcroft on something. Of course, it’s often a matter of how close a personal relationship the officer has with the president, regardless of whether she heads a bureau or a department or what.)

It seems pretty silly to me for both sides of a split INS to be in Justice – the immigrant-service side makes more sense in HHS or something like that; the reason it was part of Justice in the first place was because it was tied to the enforcement side, which should be a part of Justice.

As to improvement – the idea is that the current INS is a house divided against itself. It is both supposed to advance immigrant issues and deport immigrants. Although these functions are operationally separate, they’re still run by the same people. A more formal separation is expected to make it easier for the enforcement people to concentrate on effective enforcement and the assistance people to concentrate on more effective assistance. (Also, immigrants seeking assistance may be afraid of approaching the INS for fear that they or their relatives will get deported; if it’s a separate agency, that fear will be lessened.)


The INS is rife with incompetence, abuses and corruption. It certainly can’t get worse. One reason is that the people who have to deal with the INS are foreigners who have no vote and just have to suffer the abuse. Let’s hope things get better.