Ridge to re-shuffle border agencies

| 1/31/2003

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge Thursday announced a major restructuring of agencies protecting the nation's borders, according to press reports.

Ridge also announced President Bush would seek $41.3 billion for homeland defense in his fiscal 2004 budget, up from $37.7 billion in 2003.

The plan would merge five existing Department of Homeland Security agencies into two new bureaus focusing on border inspection and enforcement.

The inspection bureau, known as the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, will include 30,000 employees, including 17,000 inspectors from the Customs Service and employees of the Border Patrol, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner will head this bureau.

Meanwhile, officers at Customs, INS and the Federal Protective Service will make up the new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The organization will have about 14,000 employees and will be led by Michael Garcia, currently the INS' acting commissioner.

Both bureaus will be part of the department's Border and Transportation Security Directorate, headed by Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson. Neither the Coast Guard nor the Transportation Security Administration will join the new bureaus.