This report offers DHS OIG’s initial observations on the PACR and HARP programs based on our March 2020 visit to the El Paso, Texas area and analysis of data and information provided by CBP and USCIS headquarters. We determined that CBP rapidly implemented the pilot programs and expanded them without a full evaluation of the pilots’ effectiveness. Additionally, we determined there are potential challenges with the PACR and HARP programs related to how aliens are held and provided access to counsel and representation, and how CBP and USCIS assign staff to program duties and track aliens in the various agency systems. We made six recommendations to improve PACR and HARP program implementation. DHS did not concur with five of the six recommendations, stating that lawsuits and the COVID-19 pandemic had, in effect, ended the programs. We reviewed evidence provided by CBP and concluded the lawsuits themselves did not terminate the PACR and HARP pilot programs. Therefore, the recommendations remain open and unresolved. If the programs resume, we plan to resume actual or virtual site visits and issue a report detailing DHS’ full implementation of the PACR and HARP pilot programs.
DHS Has Not Effectively Implemented the Prompt Asylum Pilot Programs