Recently approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 provides for widespread changes in procedures and regulations relating to domestic security and immigration issues. The Act creates the Department of Homeland Security and, at its head, the Secretary of Homeland Security.
The Act also creates the position of Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. The Secretary, acting through the Undersecretary, will be responsible for a range of border and transportation security issues, including:
· preventing terrorists and the instruments of terror from entering the United States;
· securing all national borders;
· enforcing all immigration statutes currently performed by the Commissioner of the INS immediately before transfer of immigration functions;
· establishing rules and protocols related to the issuance of visas for non-citizens and non-permanent residents; and
· establishing policies for the enforcement of immigration laws.
The Secretary of Homeland Security (acting through the Secretary of State) will also be responsible for the administration and enforcement of all regulations related to the granting or refusal of visas at consular offices, including the training of consular officers. The Secretary of Homeland Security, however, will not be granted the ability to reverse any decision made by a consular officer regarding the issuance or refusal of a visa.
The Homeland Security Act empowers the Secretary of State to direct consular officers to refuse visas to particular aliens if the Secretary of State believes it will be in the best interests of U.S. domestic and/or foreign policy.
The Act empowers the Secretary of Homeland Security to assign Homeland Security employees to each diplomatic/consular post, unless, for some reason, such a posting would not promote homeland security.
These employees will have a range of duties and responsibilities, including:
· offering advice and training to consular officers in regards to possible security threats related to particular or groups of visa applications;
· reviewing visa applications, either at his/her own prerogative, or based on a request to do so by a consular officer;
· conducting investigations into some consular matters.
The following are descriptions of some of the Sections of the Homeland Security Act of 2002:
Section 429 of the Act calls for all information about visa denial to be entered into the interoperable electronic data system, as implemented by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. All individuals denied visas will not be able to receive visas afterwards, unless particular processes are followed and all data are entered into the electronic data system.
Section 441 of the Act calls for a transfer of five functions to the Under Secretary for Border and Transporation Security from the Commissioner of the INS. These functions are as follows:
· border patrol;
· detention and removal;
· investigations; and
Section 442 of the Act establishes the Bureau of Border Security and the position fo Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Border Security. Some of the duties relegated to the Assistant Secretary include adivsing the Under Secretary, establishing and overseeing some immigration policies and administering data retrieval programs such as SEVIS.
Section 446 of the Act calls for the completion of a 14-mile border fence near San Diego, California.
Section 451 of the Act establishes the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some of the responsiblities of this Director will be:
· the implementation of a managerial rotation program. Under this program, supervisors and managers will be positioned in all major functions of the Bureau and will work in at least one field office and one service center;
· the implementation a pilot program to deal with the backlog of immigration application processing;
· adjudications of naturalization petitions, asylum and refugee applications, and other adjudications currently performed by the INS.
Section 459 of the Act calls for the Secretary of Homeland Security to come up with and submit a plan to the House of Representatives and the Senate within one year that will describe how the Bureau plans to fairly and efficiently complete adjudications.
Section 460 of the Act calls for the Attorney General to submit a report to Congress detailing any suggestions for changes in immigration laws so that immigration services can be best met.
Section 461 of the Act calls for the establishment of an internet-based program to enable access to immigration services.
Section 462 of the Act calls for the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services to be responsible for all immigration laws related to alien children unaccompanied by adults.
Section 471 of the Act abolishes the INS.