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The Independent Institute
Working Paper #38

Nation of Origin Bias and the Enforcement of Immigration Laws by the Immigration and Naturalization Service


Abstract: The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is charged with the task of administering citizenship requests, providing for the proper documentation of temporary foreign workers, and apprehending illegal aliens. The apprehension of illegals, the most controversial duty of the INS, has placed the agency squarely in the headlines. The recent raid to seize Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives brought opprobrium upon the agency. The action, which involved 131 INS agents - some heavily armed - resulted in calls of discrimination from Miami's Cuban community. This paper examines the inconsistent enforcement patterns of the INS and attempts to determine what factors may account for INS activity. We conjecture that the agency is influenced by political pressure and may practice discrimination against certain illegals.