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INS Commissioner Statement on President's Announcement of Department of Homeland Security

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 mission.

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.

-INS-

 
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