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INS alive and well, for now

Greg Masse

Despite the passage of a congressional bill that soon could split the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service into two agencies, an INS official assured on Friday that for now, it’s business as usual.

“This doesn’t affect the way the INS handles business at all,” INS spokeswoman Nina Pruneda-Muniz said. “I want to make sure people know we’re still here, working day in and day out.”

Pruneda said she is prohibited from giving an opinion on the possible closure of the INS, but she did say further statements could be made Monday.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to dispose of the INS and replace it with two new agencies. One agency would enforce immigration laws, while the other would provide services such as helping immigrants obtain citizenship.

Third District Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, was among the huge majority to vote for scrapping the INS and starting over. The vote was 405-9.

“The congressman feels the magnitude of the INS’s problems is just too much,” McInnis spokesman Blain Rethmeier said Friday.

Rethmeier said McInnis hopes a breakup of the INS and splitting of its duties between two new entities would “add increased efficiency.”

“As time has worn on, the Congress has become increasingly frustrated with the INS’s poor performance,” Rethmeier said.

The concept must still win approval from the U.S. Senate and President Bush. If a decision is made to get rid of the INS, Rethmeier said it’s unclear when INS would close and the new agencies would open.

“It’s tough to estimate,” he said. “I think it would be reasonable to say they’d act soon.”

It is also unclear how many jobs would be lost as a result of an INS closure.

Especially in the wake of Sept. 11, many have chided the INS for not doing its jobs – providing border security and service to immigrants – effectively enough.


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