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Immigration and Naturalization Service: United States INS

By: John Stuart Smith|LRL Writer

INS ImmigrationIn the 18th and 19th century, many immigrants crossed the borders freely and stayed for a long time in the country without following federal immigration and naturalization policies. It was in 1875, after the civil war, that the government established an Office of the Superintendent of Immigration within the Treasury Department. Later in 1933, the Bureau of Immigration inflated into the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. This process helped and controlled the immigrant to become US citizen, dealt with the issue of illegal entrance into the country and checked and detained the individuals staying illegally in the country.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of the United States handled the legal, illegal immigration and naturalization and was a part of the United States Department of Justice. The INS service came to an end on March 1, 2003 and its job was segregated in three agencies, within the newly created Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) took the charge of administration of immigration services, naturalization, permanent residence, asylum, etc. Its name was further changed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which continues with the same name till date.

The other two functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service include the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The ICE took over the job of U.S. Customs investigators, the Federal Air Marshal Service, investigative and enforcement functions and the Federal Protective Service. The CBP took on the border functions of the INS that consists of the Border Patrol along with INS Inspectors and U.S. Customs Inspectors. The US government has thus converted it into an Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which helps the foreign national in attaining the US citizenship after he/she fulfils the required details.

The hierarchy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service was headed by a commissioner whose duty included reporting the events to the Attorney General in the Department of Justice. The INS was a large and complex organization that divided its work into four parts that included field operations, programs, policy and planning, and management. While the field and operations dealt with the operations part, job like arrest, detaining, and deportation of illegal immigrants was checked by the programs division. The field operation also kept a check on 33 districts and 21 border areas all through the country.

While naturalization helps an individual to gain citizenship of a country of which he/she is not a native, immigration refers to the arrival of a new individual in a country's habitat. This process is very different from the emigration and migration and is a biological concept. Both the processes are thus covered in the Immigration and Naturalization Service Act by the government of United States. The aim of the act is thus to control the number of people entering the country and also prevents the receipt of benefits such as social security or unemployment without making pressure on the country's economy, services and resources.

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