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Immigration

Press Releases tagged with "Immigration"

  • Inspector General Announces Investigation of Migrant Child’s Death

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

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    Today, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) announced that it will investigate the death of a 7-year-old migrant child who recently died after being taken into Border Patrol custody.

    At the culmination of its investigation, DHS OIG will provide a final report to the DHS Secretary, the Congress, and the public.

    In addition to an investigation of the specific circumstances of the child’s death, DHS OIG will continue its ongoing program of unannounced inspections of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. The results of these inspections will also be reported publicly.

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  • DHS OIG Finds ICE’s Screening Protocol of Aliens Who May Be Known or Suspected Terrorists is Limited and Risks National Security

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

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    A new report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) finds that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to face significant challenges with its screening of aliens who may have ties to terrorism. Auditors warn ICE may have missed opportunities to identify, apprehend, and adjudicate the status of aliens posing the highest risk to public safety and national security.   

    The report, “ICE Faces Challenges to Screen Aliens Who May Be Known or Suspected Terrorists (REDACTED),” concluded that ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) faces significant limitations in implementing its Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol (KSTEP). ICE established KSTEP to streamline the screening protocol of all aliens and to coordinate and exchange information with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Despite its implementation, the agency’s KSTEP policy fails to require continued screening of the majority of nearly 2.4 million aliens no longer in ICE custody but under ICE supervision.  

    Auditors sampled 40 of 142 ERO case files of detained aliens identified as known or suspected terrorists during fiscal years 2013 through 2015. They reviewed the cases to test ERO’s implementation of KSTEP and found instances of noncompliance in all 40 cases. ERO failed to follow procedures from running initial checks to fully documenting its actions. DHS OIG attributes some instances of noncompliance to limited program oversight and weak management controls.  

    Furthermore, auditors observed that some ERO offices do not have access to DHS classified networks which are imperative to communicate derogatory information related to known or suspected terrorists. To collect pertinent information on known or suspected terrorists, ERO agents are forced to inconveniently travel to gain access, sometimes hours away. Some ERO field offices do not any access, which limits and can jeopardize custody decisions.  Additionally, some local law enforcement agencies declined to cooperate with ICE, preventing Homeland Security from screening other criminal aliens. From January 2014 through May 2017, auditors determined that approximately 675 jurisdictions nationwide declined to honor more than 29,000 ICE immigration detainers. Released aliens may put the public and ERO personnel at-risk and more resources are required to bring these individuals into ICE custody. 

    DHS OIG made four recommendations to help ICE improve its oversight and internal controls including: ICE should expand the KSTEP scope requiring periodic screening of aliens under supervision; ensure all ERO offices have the necessary infrastructure to communicate; institute a resource assessment to allocate resources and determine number of officers needed; and strengthen its quality control program by defining clear oversight responsibilities within ERO. ICE concurred with all four recommendations.

    “Mitigating and reducing any vulnerability is vital to our nation’s security,” said Acting Inspector General John Kelly. “We are pleased with ICE’s response to heed our findings by initiating the process to implement all recommendations.”

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  • DHS OIG Inspection Cites Concerns with Detainee Treatment and Care

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    A new report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) cites concerns about the treatment and care of detainees by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE). The report is based on recent unannounced OIG inspections of five ICE detention facilities. Concerns requiring immediate attention at the Theo Lacy facility in Orange, California, were previously reported by the OIG in March 2017.  

    In their report, “Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities,” OIG inspectors documented a number of concerns. While not every problem was present at each facility, the inspections revealed issues at four facilities, beginning with the intake process. Detainees should be housed with others of similar background and criminal history; however, facility staff misclassified some detainees with high-risk criminal convictions and housed them with low-risk detainees. One facility did not adequately staff personnel to ensure thorough intake pat downs of detainees. At another facility, personnel conducted strip searches of all incoming detainees, but failed to document them, leaving no way to ascertain whether the searches were justified based on reasonable suspicion. Despite having translation services available by phone, staff and detainees experienced language barriers which created confusion and risked elevating resolvable concerns into disciplinary issues.   

    Additionally, detainees reported that staff obstructed or delayed their grievances or intimidated them, through fear of retaliation, into not complaining. Detainees should have access to telephones and be allowed to make free calls to the DHS OIG. Furthermore, inspectors observed non-working phones in one facility, and in another access the OIG Hotline number was restricted. The inspectors also reported concerns about a lack of professionalism and inappropriate treatment of detainees, and of facility staff misusing segregation. One detainee reported being locked down for multiple days for sharing coffee with another detainee.  

    Detainees further reported long waits for provision of medical care, poor conditions in bathrooms and insufficient hygiene supplies. OIG inspectors also observed expired, moldy, and spoiled foods in the kitchen in four facilities.    

    The ICE detention facilities were selected for inspections based on OIG hotline complaints, reports from non-governmental organizations, and media reporting. 

    “ICE has a challenging and highly visible role in enforcing our nation’s immigration laws,” said Acting Inspector General John Kelly. “Just as important is ICE’s role in detaining and housing the undocumented persons it apprehends. Treatment of detainees in ICE facilities should be humane, adhere to all regulations and be above reproach.”

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  • DHS Still Struggling for a Unified Approach Regarding Immigration

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    In a new report released today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) explained that almost 15 years after the creation of DHS, its component agencies still face challenges taking a unified approach to immigration enforcement and administration activities. Although DHS has established a unity of effort initiative to break silos and centralize decision making, problems remain.

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continue to face inefficiencies regarding mission allocation and expenditure comparisons, the affirmative asylum application process, and the Department’s struggle to understand immigration outcomes and decisions. The audit also revealed component coordination difficulties pertaining to the availability of bed space, language services, and processing aliens.

    The challenges exist because DHS did not have a designated Department-level official or group to strategically address overarching immigration issues and foster coordination and cooperation. The OIG audit recommends that DHS establish such a group; the Department agreed and has begun implementing the recommendation. DHS will seek to charter a senior level cross­-component Immigration Policy Council. The new Council will provide an institutionalized structure for Department-wide strategic planning related to immigration policy and operations. At a minimum, the Council will –

    • foster better awareness of roles and responsibilities;
    • facilitate better coordination and communication among the involved components and guide current cross-component immigration initiatives;
    • ensure components collect and report data for immigration activity and analyze the information to make decisions and reduce inefficiencies; and
    • serve as mediators for conflicts regarding mission accomplishment and overarching legal, policy, and other issues.
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