In 2018, senior DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leaders issued public statements urging undocumented aliens seeking asylum to enter the United States legally at ports of entry, while also directing ports of entry to focus on other priority missions and institute practices to limit the number of undocumented aliens processed at ports of entry. CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) personnel at 24 Southwest Border ports of entry implemented a practice known as queue management, where an officer manned a “limit line” position at or near the U.S.-Mexico border to control the number of undocumented aliens entering the port. We identified that seven of these ports stopped processing virtually all undocumented aliens, including asylum seekers, by redirecting them to other ports located miles away. This redirection contravenes CBP’s longstanding practice to process all aliens at a “Class A” port of entry or reclassify the port of entry. Additionally, CBP officers at four ports returned undocumented aliens to Mexico despite a legal requirement to process asylum claims of aliens that are physically present in the United States. We made three recommendations aimed at bringing CBP’s practices in line with Federal law and regulations and promoting efficient processing of undocumented aliens. CBP concurred with two of the recommendations and did not concur with one. CBP defended its decision to redirect undocumented aliens at seven ports citing the availability of operational capacity and resources and the need to maintain a discretionary balance between mission requirements at each port.
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