Senate bill would replace INS with new Justice agency

Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and subcommittee ranking member Sam Brownback, R-Kan., unveiled a bill Thursday to reform the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Senate Judiciary ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also is a cosponsor.

The bill would terminate the INS and create an immigration affairs agency within the Justice Department. It would be headed by a director of immigration affairs, who would be on a similar level to the director of the FBI. The agency would be divided into an enforcement bureau and a services bureau, each of which would be headed by a deputy director.

The director would have full responsibility and authority in administering the agency, including the direction, supervision and coordination of both bureaus. The bill would require the agency to create an Internet-based system to provide case status information to individuals applying for benefits. It also would require the agency to study the feasibility of "e-filing"--electronic filing of applications and petitions.

The House voted overwhelmingly last month to overhaul the government's immigration functions.

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