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Reno: To fix immigration problems, reform INS

The Immigration and Naturalization Service must be reformed if the country is to deal with its immigration crisis, Attorney General Janet Reno said Sunday.

Reno, speaking on ABC's This Week with David Brinkley, said poor management at the INS was partly responsible for the failure to deal with illegal aliens and the flood of applications from those seeking political asylum.

"If I had watched the criminal justice system in Dade County run as we have watched the Immigration and Naturalization Service handle these matters over the last several years, we'd have really tremendous problems," said Reno, the former Dade County prosecutor in Miami.

"When you see a backlog that exists of over 200,000 people in this country not in detention awaiting asylum hearings, you understand the dimension of the problem," she said.

Reno didn't say how the INS, a wing of the Justice Department, would be reformed.

But Reno indicated she did not favor cutting off health, education and other public services to illegal aliens. "If you deny them their benefits and they remain here for some time, you may be losing money in the long run. The issue is get them out of here if they don't belong here."