A Washington Times story today looks at the botched reorganization of immigration enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security, pegged to a report last week from Heritage and CSIS. In a nutshell, the Customs Service and the enforcement parts of the INS were merged and then reshuffled, so the border parts of each agency were combined in one bureau and the interior enforcement parts of each agency combined into a different bureau. As the report says, “not one person has been able to coherently argue why the CBP [border] and ICE [interior] were created as separate operational agencies.” The report calls for yet another organizations change, this time merging the two bureaus.
Besides providing a foretaste of the soon-to-be-botched consolidation of our intelligence agencies, the “merger” of Customs and Immigration suggests that the problem stems from policy priorities rather than bureaucratic flow charts. Because no one really wants the immigration law to be enforced, what really happened in the DHS reorganization was that the Customs Service’s border elements swallowed their counterparts in the old INS, and the same happened among agents working in the interior. So Customs agents now may use immigration violations as a tool against bad guys — like going after Al Capone for not paying his taxes. But there is no longer an agency whose sole institutional focus is immigration enforcement, which was probably the point all along.
I’m eager to see what Congress and the administration will dream up after the next batch of border jumpers / visa overstayers / bogus asylum applicants / fraudulent marriage partners exploits our Swiss-cheese immigration system to kill more of our countrymen.