Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 99100159 (posted Oct. 1, 1999)"
October 1, 1999
Letters to the Editor
The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115
To The Editor:
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
strongly endorses the idea at the heart of a recent editorial (“Reforming US
Gatekeepers,” Oct. 1, 1999). Unfortunately, you have picked the wrong vehicle
through which to restructure the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
We agree that Congress should
separate the adjudications and enforcement functions but keep them in the
Department of Justice. There also must be strategic coordination between the two
functions; a single, focused, national chain of command to pursue both an
integrated national enforcement strategy and the immigration services functions;
and adequate funding of both enforcement and adjudications.
Our disagreement is over which piece of legislation would
best accomplish those goals. There currently are three INS reform bills before
Congress: S. 1563, sponsored by Senators Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Edward Kennedy
(D-MA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE); HR 2580, introduced by Representative Sheila
Jackson-Lee (D-TX); and HR 2528, sponsored by Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY),
Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX). Both S. 1563 and HR 2580 meet
these goals. HR 2528 meets none of them, and will lead to weaker INS enforcement
and even larger backlogs in adjudications and naturalizations.
H.R. 2528 does not provide for a single person to oversee,
coordinate and integrate immigration policy. As a result, the two separate
bureaus H.R. 2528 contemplates would ensure conflicting messages on policy
matters and legal interpretations, and the two bureaus working at cross
purposes. This lack of coordination
would lead to increased inefficiencies in enforcement, naturalizations and
adjudications. Finally, the bill’s stunning silence on funding would create
even more backlogs than currently exist — three million people waiting for
Green Cards or citizenship.
That is why AILA is supporting S. 1563, which if
implemented would mean true INS
reform: a single, accountable person at the top, coordination between
enforcement and adjudications, and an adequate funding mechanism.
Jeanne A. Butterfield