From the Labor & Employment Practice.

Department of Homeland Security Will Soon Transform The INS

January, 2003

In an effort to “meet the emerging threats of terrorism in the 21st century,” on November 26th, President Bush signed into law the bill to create the Department of Homeland Security (“The Department”), a Federal “superagency” that will combine 22 separate existing federal agencies. According to President Bush, this legislation is “the most extensive reorganization of the Federal Government since the 1940s.”

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 will “move the enforcement of the nation´s immigration laws to a much larger agency,” a change that will enhance the “border enforcement effort . . . with important new resources and strength.” Statement by INS Commissioner, 11/19/2002. “In the new department, there will be a stronger separation between the service and enforcement responsibilities of the INS, but there will also be enhanced communication between those functions, a critical element to the success of our mission.” Id.

The Department will completely reform the INS by separating that agency´s immigration services functions from its immigration law enforcement functions. It will build an immigration services organization to administer immigration law. In addition, the Department will have legal authority to issue visas to foreign nationals and admit them into the country. Nonetheless, the State Department will continue to work through United States embassies and consulates abroad to administer the visa application and issuance process.

By implementing the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, the Department will initiate a new visa system in which visitors will be identifiable by biometric information gathered during the visa application process. Foreign visitors will thereafter be required to possess travel documents with biometric information.