|San Diego Union-Tribune
August 22, 2001
INS overhaul may split agency, new boss says
By JOE CANTLUPE
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- After 11 days on the job, Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James W. Ziglar said yesterday he hopes to have a
blueprint for overhauling the massive, beleaguered agency ready within a
Ziglar, a newcomer to the immigration issue, also vowed to reduce stubborn
backlogs in benefit applications, some now dragging on for years.
Those ambitious goals are among his top priorities, said Ziglar, who said he
sometimes is baffled by the $5 billion agency's management structure.
"If you look at the organizational chart of the INS, it doesn't take you long to
figure out that it looks like a Rube Goldberg contraption," Ziglar said. "I've got
to tell you, I still have to stop and figure out where all these things go."
He added: "If we can get these things going, we can change the momentum of
The new commissioner said he intends to carry out President Bush's plan to
carve the agency into two branches: one as a "service" bureau to process
benefits applications, the other as a "law enforcement" bureau to oversee
inspections, investigations and the Border Patrol.
Ziglar declined to divulge many details of the overhaul proposal, which would
be carried out over several years. The commissioner said the agency intends
to streamline management and reshape the chain of command.
Ziglar, 55, is a former Wall Street banker. He most recently was
sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, where he built a reputation as a smooth and
efficient manager, particularly during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Ziglar
enjoys support from Democrats and Republicans, even though he has virtually no background in immigration matters.
Ziglar said he intends to win bipartisan approval of plans to overhaul INS. For
years, Democrats and Republicans have called for restructuring the INS, but
failed to agree on how it should be done.
"Many of us feel that the time has long come to divide the agency into two
separate bureaus, with clear chains of command -- one for services and one
for enforcement," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee and a Ziglar
Ziglar said he seeks an orderly restructuring of the INS, acknowledging that
he did not want the agency to be a "stumbling block" to other Bush
administration immigration policy proposals.
Among the most prominent proposal is the White House plan to consider a
new temporary guest-worker policy that could lead to the legalization of
millions of Mexicans who are living in the United States illegally.
Yesterday, Ziglar echoed other administration officials who said recently that
the White House is moving slowly in completing a temporary guest-worker
plan. Ziglar said he wasn't sure what kind of policy statement might be made
-- if any -- when President Bush plays host to Mexican President Vicente Fox during a state visit next month.
Observers contend Ziglar faces immediate bureaucratic, management and
political challenges. When Congress returns next month, Senate and House
committees are expected to examine INS restructuring plans.
The agency now faces "some very, very unfortunate" delays in processing
benefits applications, Ziglar said. But he said he intends to meet Bush's goal of
a six-month average for handling such applications in the next two to three
Ziglar also met with INS employees yesterday. He said he wants to be a
strong advocate for the 33,000-member agency while ensuring that anyone
who has contact with the INS is "treated with respect and dignity and without
any hint of bias or discrimination."