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CREATING A DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION One potential way to provide the immigration system with the political backbone it deserves is to consider a long-term plan of providing the immigration system with its own structure. By creating a Department of Immigration and Border Protection, fragmentation is minimized and enforcement and benefits operations act to support each other. If we consider that we, as a country, can adopt policies and laws that encourage legal immigration and discourage illegal immigration all upon a foundation of biometrically based travel histories and secure background checks, then we divest ourselves of the notion that we have to fragment our operations into boxes that only incite unnecessary turf and resource allocation wars. CBP and ICE are remnants of old thinking. We need immigration enforcement functions to stay together where it makes sense, and that is the case where detention and removal, anti-smuggling, and overall immigration enforcement is merely an extension of border inspection and patrol functions.
The bureaucracy that houses the U.S. border system should be the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Right now, immigration services, (CİS) immigration enforcement (CBP and ICE), and border policy (BTS) are all co-located at DHS. Visa issuance remains at the State Department. It is not the fragmentation of these agencies that is the entire problem, however. Instead, the main problem is one of accountability and access to information. There is no one who answers directly to the President solely on border issues, nor has direct access to the top tiers of intelligence.
Instead, the creation of DHS has replicated one of the problems of legacy INS: too many layers of bureaucracy between the president and those on the front lines of immigration policy-making and information gathering. This problem is documented in 9/11 and Terrorist Travel.
Today's DHS Secretary not only has to deal with an overly complex set of border, immigration and customs enforcement, and immigration benefit issues, but wholly new arenas for the government such as information assurance and infrastructure protection. This inevitably means that the DHS Secretary (like all previous parent organizations of immigration agencies) has a multitude of responsibilities, only a handful of which are critical to border security. No one thoroughly knowledgeable or directly responsible for the border system is available to answer questions at a cabinet meeting or listen to critical intelligence briefings. Consider the following factors:
• Accountability and access to the President are keys to having the right inforThe endnote to that paragraph reads:
mation from the right people to make border security effective. Border secu
rity never has been effective in this country. • U.S. immigration policies inform our foreign policy and affect the world's view
of the United States. Immigration has always been central to shaping our identity as a nation. A Department of Immigration and Border Protection
would reflect that importance. • Immigration issues and laws are immensely complex, politically and legally,
and require a tremendous amount of expertise to deal with them effectively. • Well-honed border policies have become a top priority for national security. • About 40 percent of DHS employees, or about 40,000 personnel, are in a bor
der-related agency or directorate. That is more than the year 2000 Congressional Budget Office numbers for the Department of State (27,000); the Department of Labor (16,000); Department of Education (5,000); Department of Energy (16,000); and the Department of Housing and Urban Development
(10,000).1 As described in 9/11 and Terrorist Travel, ever since their inception, immigration services have been treated poorly in the hierarchy of government bureaucracies:
Although the nation's growth depended on successive waves of immigrants, the Bureau of Immigration never seemed quite important enough to become its own department, with its own secretary reporting directly to the president of the United States. In fact the bureau was something of an administrative orphan. Over the century its name and bureaucratic home changed repeatedly, and increasing numbers of confusing statutes created conflicting jurisdictions in both immigration services and enforcement.2
Congressional Budget Office. “A CBO Paper: Changes in Federal Civilian Employment: An Update." May 2001.
29/11 and Terrorist Travel, p. 90.
In 1895, the Bureau of Immigration was created and placed under the Secretary of the Treasury. In 1903, the bureau moved to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor, taking the name the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in 1906. When the Department of Labor was created in 1913, the bureau moved with it. In 1933, these functions were consolidated to form the Immigration and Naturalization Service under a commissioner. In 1940, the Service was transferred to the Department of Justice where it remained until March 2003. See “History of Immigration and Naturalization Agencies,” 8 U.S.C. 88 1551. In addition, there are at least 150 statutes providing the legislative his
tory of immigration.3 With rumors that CBP seeks to absorb ICE, interest in shifting the BTS policy shop into the office of the DHS Secretary, and infighting between CIS and ICE, and ICE and CBP, many bureaucratic issues remain to be resolved. Perhaps placing these border functions in a standalone department would allow desperately needed reforms to be put in place, including strategic planning for budgets and resources that could finally make the U.S. border system enforceable and effective.
CONCLUSION Terrorists are creative and adaptable enemies. The 9/11 hijackers probed our defenses, found our weakest points, and ruthlessly exploited them. To counter the threat, we must be aware of new trends in terrorist travel. We must be more flexible in our efforts to counter them.
We must upgrade our border system now. Our current system sets the bar far too low for terrorists trying to enter the United States. Fortunately, our frontline officers are extremely dedicated, talented, and eager to do everything they can to protect this country. Now they need the tools and the authority to do their job. Better training, government-wide integrated databases, standardized procedures, biometrics, the latest technology, and the authority to trust their hard-earned instincts, will empower these dedicated officers to keep our country safe.
The thousands of dedicated officers responsible for visa issuance, entry, and immigration adjudications have an overwhelming task: to identify, out of the millions who seek entry into this country each year, the few who represent a danger to the United States. Keeping our borders open to well-meaning legal immigrants, who contribute to our economy and society, while keeping out and removing terrorists and others seeking to harm us, should be a top priority. The recommendations in this testimony can make our borders more secure by ensuring that policy decisions have the support from the President and key issues of enforcement are not mired in unnecessary turf and resource battles.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Stana.
SECURITY AND JUSTICE ISSUES, U.S. GOVERNMENT AC-
Mr. Chairman, Ms. Jackson Lee, and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to be here today to share our views on management challenges relating to immigration enforcement activities at ICE and CBP as this Subcommittee considers potential structural changes in these bureaus to address dual-mission issues. GAO has conducted numerous reviews of both specific programs and overall management in these bureaus, and at INS which proceeded them. I would like to make a few points that may provide the Subcommittee with insights as potential changes to the structure of ICE and CBP are considered.
First, ICE and CBP face a number of management challenges similar to the ones that existed in INS. The challenges at INS included a lack of clearly defined priorities and goals; difficulty in determining who to coordinate with, when to coordinate and how to communicate; and inadequately defined roles which resulted in overlapping responsibilities, inconsistent program implementation, and ineffective uses of resources. In 1999 and 2001, I testified on these management issues before this Subcommittee when consideration was being given to restructuring INS as a way of addressing these challenges. My 2001 testimony in particular concluded that while restructuring may help address some of these issues, the new organization would still need to address the management issues head on. I concluded that unless this was done, enforcing our immigration laws, providing services to eligible aliens and effectively participating in government-wide efforts to combat terrorism would be problematic regardless of how the immigration function was organized. In March 2003, the enforcement functions of the INS were transferred to the new DHS and placed in ICE and CBP. In 2004, we reported that many of the same management challenges we found in INS still existed in the new bureaus, but mostly in ICE.
3 9/11 and Terrorist Travel, Chapter 4, endnote 126, at pp. 238–239.
My second point is in evaluating solutions to ICE and CBP challenges, including potential structural changes, policymakers should ask several key questions. The first question is whether ICE and CBP have an effective management framework in place. This includes considering whether the mission is clearly defined and articulated, the strategic planning process is comprehensive and focused on the mission, the organization structure supports the mission and strategy, performance measures are suitable for gauging progress, and leadership and accountability mechanisms are in place. Our work showed that ICE and CBP have made some progress, but much confusion still exists about roles, mission, responsibilities, performance measures and accountability. Reorganizing the bureaus now before the mission and strategic plans are fully developed and operational could further disrupt the mission and operation of these bureaus. More needs to be done to ensure that each element of the framework is put in place. If it isn't done in proper sequence, mission, then planning, then structure, this could result in a case of ready, shoot, aim.
The second question is whether the processes and systems are in place to support the framework and to resolve problems as they arise. As I alluded to in my 2001 testimony, moving boxes around an organizational chart alone cannot be expected to resolve problems without policy, guidance, communication and information sharing. These are management problems, not necessarily structure problems, and the solutions lie mainly in work processes that are clearly understood and followed, communication channels and organizational crosswalks that link related activities, and information systems that accurately report on program status and results. Again, some progress is being made, but many problems persist, and they continue to affect mission performance.
The third question is what effect are the transformation and integration activities at DHS having on ICE and CBP? It is important to recognize that the management challenges in these two bureaus exist in the larger context of the creation and evolution of DHS, which is the largest reorganization of the Federal Government in over 50 years. Despite real and hard-earned progress, DHS still has significant challenges to overcome in all of the management areas, including providing focus for management efforts, including strategic planning, and managing its human capital. Resolving these challenges at the top levels might help address similar challenges in ICE and CBP, or it might not. Given that it can take 5 to 7 years until change initiatives are fully implemented and cultures are substantially transformed, it is an open question whether this is the right time for a major restructuring of ICE and СВР. .
In closing, the proposals to merge certain ICE and CBP functions to resolve dual-mission issues are well-intentioned and are gaining some momentum, but I would like to inject a word of caution here. Let's look before we leap. Exactly what problem are we trying to fix? Reorganizing an agency or function to better align it with its mission and strategic plan is desirable and should be done. However, reorganizing mainly to address underlying weaknesses in supporting processes and systems, such as a lack of coordination and cooperation among units, or a lack of guidance relating to operational activities, might not be productive. As we have seen, mainly reorganizing these immigration and Customs functions at DHS without fixing the underlying processes and systems has not resolved the long-standing management challenges we saw in INS. At the same time, ICE and CBP may not be able to resolve some of these challenges on their own if they are affected by a higher level of DHS-wide management problems.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. And I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you or other Members of the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Stana.