The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) started out in the late 1800’s as the Bureau of Immigration. The Bureau was created to monitor and control the flow of immigrants from Europe coming to the U.S. in the wake of the industrial revolution.
The Bureau acted to keep out “undesirables,” such as mentally challenged individuals branded “lunatics,” Chinese laborers, and people suffering from contagious diseases. Back then, it cost 50 cents to enter the United States. The Bureau was in charge of collecting this tax. It also investigated cases of aliens living illegally in the U.S., and deported them.
The Bureau changed its name to the Immigration and Naturalization Service when it was transferred from the Treasury to the Justice Department in 1913. Immigration was slow during the war years, and the INS shrunk and became quiet.
In the 1950’s, a new wave of immigration from the Americas and Asia prompted the INS to increase its workforce. The numbers of immigrants legally entering the country and applying for visas increased with each decade, and INS offices and immigrant services became busy processing cases.
In 2001, as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the INS came under fire for allowing potential terrorists into the country. The political leadership needed to eliminate the INS for its perceived failure. The INS was restructured into the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS works alongside the Secretary of State to monitor immigration, but the DHS also works to prevent terrorism within our border