Interim field managers named at new border agencies

Homeland Security officials on Friday named 20 senior managers to direct regional operations at a new agency designed to secure U.S. borders.

The managers, who will serve on an interim basis, will oversee regional inspection and investigation activities at the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP), which will conduct inspections at 307 U.S. ports of entry. Officials also named 36 managers who will oversee investigators of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service at the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE), an agency that will handle criminal investigations of U.S. customs and immigration laws.

Both bureaus were created on March 1, when their component agencies-the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (including the Border Patrol), the Federal Protective Service, and the Plant Protection and Quarantine unit of the Agriculture Department-moved into the Homeland Security Department.

Appointing regional managers-as well as naming interim port directors at ports of entry-is a first step to combining the management structure of these agencies, Homeland Security Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson said Friday.

"As we implement our plans, we will fully integrate the work of the agencies that now make up the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, and in doing so create a single face of government at the border," he said.

Twenty interim directors of field operations will oversee regional operations at BCBP, according to Hutchinson and Robert Bonner, the former commissioner of the Customs Service who is now leading the new agency. Managers from both the Customs Service and INS were chosen for these positions. They will work out of 20 Customs Management Centers located around the country.

At the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 36 senior managers will oversee regional and district INS enforcement activities. The bureau also includes Customs investigators, but these agents will continue to report to Customs supervisors for the immediate future. Hutchinson has said he intends to combine the chain-of-command at BICE as well, but this process will take longer because many INS and Customs investigators do not work at the same location.

But both sets of investigators now have the same boss: Commissioner Michael Garcia, who until Saturday was the acting commissioner of the INS.

BICE also includes the Federal Protective Service, while the Border Patrol is part of BCBP.

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