Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Bush Advisers Recommending Merger of INS, Customs; President's OK Expected
TBO.com ^ | 3/19/02 | Ron Fournier

Posted on 03/19/2002 12:33:30 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection

President Bush, responding to the terror attacks, is expected to ask Congress to remove the Customs Service from the Treasury Department and create a new agency in charge of securing America's porous borders.

His domestic security team recommended in a meeting Tuesday that Bush seek to merge the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which includes the Border Patrol, according to senior administration officials.

The Justice Department would oversee the new agency, which would take over enforcement activities from the embattled INS.

In a sign that Bush is likely to endorse the plan, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer defended the concept of merging border security agencies.

"There is a school of thought that you can have better controls and more effective ways of welcoming people to this country, welcoming trade to this country, while keeping people out who would do us harm as a result of consolidation," Fleischer said.

Though he said Bush has not decided whether to accept the recommendation, other aides said the president is likely to do so. It is the first major overhaul plan presented by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

The plan would require congressional approval. Bush's lobbying team began consulting with Congress Tuesday, a step that aides said Bush wanted taken before he signed off on the plan.

Praising the proposal, Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, said, "Terrorists are not playing by the old rules and neither should we."

The suicide hijackings over Washington, New York and Pennsylvania pointed out holes in the nation's border security procedures.

The government has acknowledged that four of the Sept. 11 hijackers had overstayed their visas, and a recent Justice Department review suggested the system has remained lax since then. That review found that even after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. immigration officials have been failing to consistently check terrorist watch lists when approving foreign visitors entering the United States without visas.

In addition, Bush was embarrassed by last week's disclosure that the INS issued paperwork relating to student visas for two of the hijackers six months after the attacks.

Tuesday's recommendation came as lawmakers considered trying to compel Ridge to testify about security issues. Bush has rejected the request for Ridge testimony, saying presidential advisers traditionally do not testify before Congress.

Ridge has informally talked to lawmakers, a process aides say he is willing to continue.

The INS and Border Patrol are part of the Justice Department. Customs is part of the Treasury Department.

Aides said the merger plan was endorsed by Bush's entire homeland security team - including Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, whose department would lose control of the Customs Service.

O'Neill and his staff were not immediately available for comment. A White House official familiar with O'Neill's position said the secretary privately advocated more dramatic changes, but had not opposed the recommendation.

While INS and the Customs Service are the major immigration agencies in Washington, there are others involved that would not be part of the Bush proposal, including the Agriculture Department, the Coast Guard and the Transportation Department. INS Commissioner James Ziglar declined to comment on the proposal.

Bush begins a trip to Latin America on Thursday, stopping first in El Paso, Texas, where he is expected to discuss border issues.

Several attempts to merge the border agencies have failed in past years, but Bush advisers say they have political momentum in light of the attacks and an increased priority on protecting the nation's borders.

Ridge had hoped to make the merger part of Bush's State of the Union address, but was caught off guard by stiff opposition from both supporters and critics of the agencies.


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: agencymergers; customs; ins

1 posted on 03/19/2002 12:33:31 PM PST by Tumbleweed_Connection
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
The INS needs to be two organizations- one to smile and be nice and a second to kick other peoples' @$$.

Also get rid of Tom Ridge and other second raters like Pinheada and replace them with people who at least act like they are trying to prevent terror cell members from entering the US.

2 posted on 03/19/2002 12:38:33 PM PST by Dialup Llama
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dialup Llama
Separate naturalization functions and put it in a separate agency. Put all other border security functions under one roof.
3 posted on 03/19/2002 12:43:44 PM PST by goldstategop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Sounds like a good first step and this is the best news: The Justice Department would oversee the new agency, which would take over enforcement activities from the embattled INS.

The INS would not arrest nor stop Saddam if he was caught crossing the border with a truck load of suitcase nuclear weapons and illegal drugs! They would give him maps and phamplets telling him where to register to vote Rat, to get free medical care, free food and housing!

4 posted on 03/19/2002 12:44:43 PM PST by Grampa Dave
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
This is a mistake! INS is a disater, almost as inept as the FAA. Allowing INS to merge does nothing to fix anything but simply gives these boobs the ability to explain away tomorrow's idiocy as "the natural results of a complex combination." Si, in two years, the INS performance will be as bad, but they will all earn bonuses, not for their success in stopping illegal aliens and foreign terrorists, but for their efforts in implementing the merger "more expeditiously than anticipated." We need to get rid of all the senior levels of bureaucrats in this incompetent agency and replace them with people who won't work for themselves, alone, but will work for the INS and the US. Most of these guys probably can afford retirement now, what with all the cash awards they have received from many sources.
5 posted on 03/19/2002 12:44:46 PM PST by Tacis
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Curious about something. Aren't the U.S. armed forces charged with domestic security? Wouldn't that include securing the borders? Or do they only exist to go on foreign "expeditions"?
6 posted on 03/19/2002 12:47:33 PM PST by babyface00
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
That review found that even after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. immigration officials have been failing to consistently check terrorist watch lists

This is beginning to smell like more than mere bureaucratic incompetence.

7 posted on 03/19/2002 1:01:00 PM PST by Madame Dufarge
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
STUPID! First, it would play into the hands of the FBI, if not the Justice Dept to become a NATIONAL POLICE FORCE (Gestopo to the stups). Second, it would pollute the effectiveness of the US Customs Service. Third, there is NO TRADITION for Customs in the Justice Dept. Morale IS important in Law Enforcement. Fourth, the INS has the ins and connects within the Justice Dept to undermine any possible increase in the effectiveness of the "combined" agency.
8 posted on 03/19/2002 1:12:06 PM PST by Henchman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
The INS and Border Patrol are part of the Justice Department. Customs is part of the Treasury Department.

The Customs Service is one of the oldest services in the United States and brings money into the US Treasury. You haven't read about screw-ups by Customs. You have heard about screw-ups by the INS and Border Patrol. Rewarding Justice by adding another service to oversee doesn't sound too smart to me. Maybe Ashcroft needs to get his act together and maybe Paul O'Neil ought to get a better understanding of the Customs Service Mission before he tosses it overboard.

9 posted on 03/19/2002 1:34:53 PM PST by Jimmy Valentine's brother
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tumbleweed_Connection
Much as I disfavor the formation of new entities, Ridge's Homeland Defense should be given budget authoriity and fold in INS along with the portion of Customs which does not deal in tariffs. In addition the visa granting part of the State Dept should be included. They are nearly as inept as INS.

These were the strong recommendations after lengthy study, of commmisions headed by Rudman and Gary Hart.

10 posted on 03/19/2002 2:06:06 PM PST by Fithal the Wise
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Grampa Dave
In this new approach the justice department will over see the INS. In the old, terribly ineffective approach, the justice department oversaw the INS.

So what's changed? Very little.

11 posted on 03/20/2002 1:08:00 AM PST by Rudder
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Tacis
BTTT
12 posted on 03/22/2002 12:50:41 PM PST by Uncle Bill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson