Attorney General John Ashcroft announced this week sweeping changes in immigration policy, to keep terrorists from entering the country and capture those already in the U-S. The new head of the Iowa-Nebraska I-N-S district, Jerry Heinauer says the new I-N-S priority includes coordinating with other agencies like the FBI and Secret Service. Heinauer says the increased oversight will begin before someone ever comes to this country.When someone applies for a student visa, the consulate should be able to look up law-enforcement databases, and if they don’t keep up their status, they’ll be deported. In Iowa and Nebraska, the Immigration and Naturalization Service is changing how it tackles the problem of illegal aliens, focusing on their employers instead of workers without proper green cards. Employers who knowingly hire them can use lots of work in fields like meatpacking where their whole workforce can turn over completely four times year. Heinauer says the agency is more interested in criminals, however. Last year he says the INS caught and deported 3500 people who were in the U-S illegally, and considered about a thousand of them “criminal aliens.” For those who do follow the rules, the INS is making it faster to become citizens, speeding up processing of applications for permanent residency. Last year the INS processed 4100 applications, the year before, 1500. It normally takes 18 months to process an application, but Heinauer says the Iowa-Nebraska INS district hopes to cut that time to six months.
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