INS chief announces resignation plans
September 11 cited as turning point
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing a "desire to return to private life," James Ziglar, the commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said Friday he will step down from his post this fall.
Ziglar announced his plans in a message sent to INS employees, following a separate letter he sent to President Bush Thursday.
Beyond mentioning the desire to return to private life, Ziglar gave no specific reason for his decision, but he said the terrorist attacks of September 11 changed the structure and mission of agency.
He also noted that the proposed new Department of Homeland Security had "fundamentally changed" the agency's future.
In the letters to employees and Bush, Ziglar said he plans to leave before the end of the year.
Administration officials insisted the White House had not sought Ziglar's resignation.
The INS is undergoing a major restructuring after years of harsh criticism by Congress over a series of highly publicized failures in controlling the borders, and the alleged politicization of the naturalization process.
Following September 11, the INS was widely criticized for failing to keep track of foreign students and other visitors to the United States.
The administration, acknowledging the agency had long been dysfunctional, has moved to cut the INS in half with separate agencies handling the service components and the law enforcement responsibilities.
Ziglar said he had taken the job with the intention of restructuring the INS, but that the terrorist attacks had changed that effort.
"Restructuring will now be achieved through the merger of the INS into the new department, and border security will now receive the priority status it deserves," he wrote in the letter to employees. "Knowing these goals will be successfully accomplished as part of a larger and stronger agency, it is an appropriate time for me to return to private life."
Officials with the office of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, who has tangled with Ziglar, had no immediate comment.
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