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INS overhaul key to border security, lawmakers say

Restructuring the Immigration and Naturalization Service is crucial to improving enforcement of the nation's immgration laws and ensuring border security, according to several lawmakers speaking at an immigration conference Tuesday.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security must become a key component of future immigration policy, said both House Immigration Reform Caucus Chairman Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas.

The legislators argued that homeland security no longer can be separated from immigration policy and that the United States must set of goal of screening and tracking foreign visitors.

"Immigration is a public safety issue," Smith said.

Tancredo charged that the INS currently is structured more toward providing social services to immigrants than toward enforcing the law.

"We don't have a workable immigration policy infrastructure," he said.