It’s become even more glaringly obvious over the past few months that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service is a big, fat mess, and that much of the time it has proven unable to handle even the more basic parts of its huge and unwieldy mission. The reasons for this are quite complex, ranging from lack of consensus over what its mission should be, to its split and constantly shifting enforcement priorities, to disastrously inadequate computer systems, to underfunding…you get the picture. The results: waiting times of up to 2-3 years for benefits which would be approvable in a matter of minutes if anyone ever got around to looking at the applications; lost applications; ridiculous amounts of fraud perpretrated upon an overwhelmed system; terrorists who receive student visas months after their bloody and quite public deaths; huge disruptions to the lives of ordinary folks who need decisions from INS to do things like go to their home countries in family emergencies; we’ve all read stories like these in the media.
So what’s the best way to fix this mess? Various proposals are currently banging around Congress right now, and it’s becoming clearer that some kind of major restructuring is about to be legislated; the House and the Senate are just inthe process of hashing out the details. I’ve got my own opinions, some of which I injected into what became an inadvertent hijacking of the “are USA pissed at Iran?” thread over the past couple of days.
What I’m curious about, though, are all your opinions as reasonably well-informed laypeople; how can INS balance its enforcement mission and its benefits adjudication mission, given the resources available? How could they have done things better in the past, and what could they change to do things better in the future? Should part or all of the agency’s mission be divided among other agencies? Or is the system so broken that it needs to be rebuilt from the ground up?
If you respond, I’d like to know whether you base your response on a specific personal experience, particularly if it’s one that hasn’t been widely reported in the U.S. mainstream national media (since I read most of those). And thanks for participating in my maiden thread.