INS Plans Staff Expansion in Vermont

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(Host) The nation’s focus on preventing terrorism will lead to more jobs at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Vermont. INS Commissioner James Ziglar said in South Burlington Monday that Vermont is a key part of the agency’s operations.

VPR’s John Dillon has more.

(Dillon) In the post-September 11 world, the Immigration and Naturalization Service may get folded into the proposed Department of Homeland Security. The name may change, but INS Commissioner James Ziglar says the agency will continue to expand in Vermont:

(Ziglar) “It doesn’t matter whether the INS is no longer called the INS or is part of the Homeland Security Department or whatever. It will grow. The mission is a mission that is growing and Vermont will be a critical part of that.”

(Dillon) The INS already employs about 2,000 people in the state. Ziglar says that number will grow by 400-500 over the few years.

The commissioner says he came to Vermont to thank employees for their hard work – and to assure them that more help is on the way. He says the government will hire 71 new border patrol agents this year. About 100 new inspectors will also be recruited. And the INS will add another 200-300 people to its service center in St. Albans.

Ziglar met with reporters after his pep talk to employees. He says the agency has improved its operations since last fall’s terrorist attacks:

(Ziglar) “Since September 11, we have put in a number of different operating procedures – in terms of the security checks we do on people, when we do them, the integration of our databases with the FBI databases – which have resulted in a large number of arrests, about 1700, of criminals at the border.”

(Dillon) Ziglar says that for years the INS has been under-staffed. He says he’s working to get more employees and more resources assigned to the nation’s borders.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in South Burlington.

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