Reorganizing the Immigration Function: Toward a New Framework for Accountability

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A new era of large-scale immigration calls for new forms of governance and management. As we negotiate these demands it is important to ask ourselves a number of critical questions. First, are the intentions of the immigration system clear to all who engage with it? Second, are our institutional structures equal to the task of managing the responsibilities implied by large immigration numbers and ever more complex functions? Third, are various components of the immigration function rationally organized into a set of interrelated elements whose whole is clearly larger than the sum of its parts? Fourth, is the system we have in place-both in terms of its organization and of its location within our public administration apparatus-capable of delivering all the programs we expect of it? Fifth, can the system satisfy Americans that increasing public investments in the immigration function have in fact improved its two main elements: compliance with the law and provision of services in a timely, fair, and courteous manner? Finally, is the system flexible enough to learn from experience, embrace change, and meet the financial and programmatic criteria of accountability that the public has a right to expect?

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International Migration Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1998)