Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 02071872 (posted Jul. 18, 2002)"
June 7, 2002
The President has announced his intention to ask Congress to create the
Department of Homeland Security. This new department will incorporate the
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and a number of other government
agencies into a unified border security and domestic defense department.
I want all of you to know that I strongly support the creation of this new
cabinet-level department and that I consider this an important and very positive
development for the security of our nation and for the mission and employees of
the INS. In this new structure, the INS will become a key part of one of the
largest agencies in the federal government, and we will be partners in what is
the most important mission of our government: protecting the American people and
ensuring the safety of our institutions and our precious freedoms.
The new Department of Homeland Security holds many advantages for the mission
of the INS. First, border security has been a primary mission of the INS for
many years. By moving this undertaking to a much larger agency, we will better
leverage our ability to achieve this mission with the addition of other
disciplines and additional resources.
Second, the INS is particularly well situated for the transition to this new
department. We have long recognized that the INS needs to be restructured, and
we have taken many fundamental steps in that direction. However, there has been
the lingering question as to what the final new structure would look like. We
now know how the INS will be restructured. The President’s plan will pre-empt
all other restructuring proposals and we can now work toward what will be the
final INS structure. In reviewing the President’s plan, it is reassuring to see
that we have indeed been going down the correct path all along.
Action is required now to make the President’s plan a reality. Toward that
end, I am today forming an Implementation Task Force to work with the Office of
Homeland Security to ensure a smooth transition into the new department. I will
personally chair the task force and its membership will be reflective of the
many elements of the INS. The Office of Restructuring will be merged into the
Implementation Task Force and will be a major player in its activities.
The plan that the President unveiled last night will bring both the service
and enforcement functions of the INS into the new department. There will be a
stronger separation between those two responsibilities, as our own plan
reflects, but the new department will also accommodate communication between the
service and enforcement functions, a critical element to the success of our
Of course, this new department will have to be created through the passage of
legislation, but the initial outline announced by the President has INS well
situated for this transition. Until the new department is created, we should
remember that our day-to-day work is just as important as ever. We are the
guardians of the borders and our nation still depends on us to inspect new
arrivals, protect the borders and ports, and adjudicate benefit applications. As
the legislation progresses and this new department takes on greater definition,
I will continue to keep you informed. This is a new and great day for the INS,
one in which the mission of border security has taken on a whole new national
prominence. Congratulations on the good work you have done in the past, and the
future good work I know you will do in aggressively writing this important new
chapter in America’s history.