The Immigration and Naturalization Service was a United States (US) federal agency that was often referred to as the INS. During its existence, this agency had a broad range of responsibilities, which included enforcing immigration at the borders and maintaining immigration procedures for those already on US soil. Many felt that its vast amount of duties caused the agency to be inefficient and commonly erroneous. This service was disbanded early in the 21st century and its duties were divided among newly formed federal agencies.
Attempts to control immigration into the US is not a modern concept. Immigration services date back to 1891. Naturalization services, which allow foreigners to become United States citizens, were not created by the federal government until the 20th century.
The INS began with the official title of Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. This agency was opened in 1906 after the Naturalization Service was created. The link between these two agencies was, however, divided seven years later in 1913 when they were transferred to the Department of Labor.
These two services were not again connected until 1933. When this happened, the name Immigration and Naturalization Service was assigned. While the agencies were split, the Immigration Service had acquired the US Border Patrol, which also became part of the newly formed INS. From 1940 until 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service operated as part of the Department of Justice.
Following the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, the federal government felt there was a need for greater security and efficiency with regards to immigration. As a result, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 eliminated the INS and created three new services. In 2003, immigration duties regarding benefit applications became the responsibility of the newly formed agency now called the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). This agency still deals with naturalization and also aims to ensure the legality of other immigration efforts.
Another agency known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) assumed certain enforcement duties that were once held by INS. This includes the authority to investigate and deport those who have violated immigration laws. ICE’s mission is to protect the people of the US and the homeland by upholding its duties.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was the third entity to assume Immigration and Naturalization Service duties. CBP assumed the role of immigration with regards to US borders. It has a priority mission of keeping terrorists out of the US. All of these new agencies operate under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).