INS Reorganization

Authored by , LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

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What Was the INS?

“INS” is an acronym for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a U.S. agency that was dismantled in 2003.  The law that formed the INS was the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). As a response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Patriot Act made major changes to the INA in 2001. The feeling existed that the INS no longer met the needs of a society under threat of terrorism.

What Replaced the INS? 

Among the changes included creating the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a computerized system to keep track of foreign students living in the US.  Other changes included the 2002 Homeland Security Act and the 2002 Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. These amendments mandated, for reasons of national security, that a number of federal agencies be created, renamed, and reorganized.

On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was dismantled and reorganized into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Within the DHS there are three new agencies: the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The USCIS absorbed the former INS office administration and immigration services.  ICE, the main enforcement arm of the DHS, absorbed the former U.S. Customs investigators, the Federal Protective Service, and the Federal Air Marshal Service.  And CBP absorbed the former INS and Customs Inspectors, the Department of Agriculture, and the Border Patrol.

As a result of these changes, the U.S. immigration agencies are now more “enforcement-oriented,” meaning that they aim to help increase the security of the U.S., while protecting U.S. citizens from terrorism within their borders.

What If the ICE Detains Me?

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has the power to detain individuals suspected of being human traffickers, terrorists, or illegal immigrants. Upon detainment, the ICE must deport the individual within 48 hours, though legal complications can extend the detainment for a very long time. After six months though, the detained have the right to demand a court hearing.

What If the CBP Prevents Me from Entering the Country?

The CBP can prevent an individual from entering the country for a number of reasons: crime, like murder or terrorism; illegal immigration; carrying an infectious disease; breaking the terms of a previous visa, including overstaying.

In the event the CBP prevents your entry, you can petition the CBP or the DHS for a review through their traveler redress system. If you are not an American citizen, you can also contact your nation’s embassy for assistance.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Challenging the Department Of Homeland Security or one of its sub-agencies is not easy because the DHS has the resources to fight any legal battle thrown at them. An experienced immigration attorney can speak for you and ensure that your rights are protected.

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Last Modified: 04-16-2014 02:31 PM PDT

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