DHS did not have the Information Technology (IT) system functionality needed to track separated migrant families during the execution of Zero Tolerance. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) adopted various ad hoc methods to record and track family separations, but this practice introduced widespread errors. These conditions persisted because CBP did not address known IT deficiencies before the Zero Tolerance Policy was implemented in May 2018. DHS also did not provide adequate guidance to personnel responsible for executing the policy. Because of the IT deficiencies, we could not confirm the total number of families DHS separated during the Zero Tolerance period. DHS estimated Border Patrol agents separated 3,014 children from their families while the policy was in place. DHS also estimated it completed 2,155 reunifications, although this effort continued on for seven months beyond the July 2018 deadline for reunifying children with their parents. However, we conducted a review of DHS data during the Zero Tolerance period and identified 136 children with potential family relationships that were not accurately recorded by CBP. In a broader analysis of DHS data between the dates of October 1, 2017 to February 14, 2019, we identified an additional 1,233 children with potential family relationships not accurately recorded by CBP. Without a reliable accounting of all family relationships, we could not validate the total number of separations, or the completion of reunifications. Although DHS spent thousands of hours and more than $1 million in overtime costs, it did not achieve the original goal of deterring “Catch-and-Release” through the Zero Tolerance Policy. Moreover, the surge in apprehended families during this time period resulted in children being held in CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit. The Department concurred with all five report recommendations.
- Executive SummaryReport NumberOIG-20-06Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyOversight AreaKeywordsFiscal Year2020
- Executive Summary
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plays a critical role in the Nation’s efforts to interdict dangerous substances and prohibited items at U.S. ports of entry and keep these materials from harming the American public. An important part of CBP’s mission is preventing foreign countries from importing illegal drugs such as opioids into the U.S. CBP is experiencing a rise in seizures of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl that upon exposure can kill in minutes. CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) Fines Penalties and Forfeitures Division stores, manages, and disposes seized property, including illicit drugs such as fentanyl. During our ongoing audit of CBP’s storage of seized drugs at permanent drug vaults we visited, we determined that CBP does not adequately protect its staff from the dangers of powerful synthetic opioids. Specifically, CBP has not always made medications designed to treat narcotic overdose available in case of accidental exposure. This occurred because CBP lacks an official policy requiring standard workplace practices for handling fentanyl and safeguarding personnel against exposure. In addition, CBP does not require mandatory training for its staff to provide an understanding of the hazards of fentanyl and methods to combat accidental exposure. As a result, CBP staff is at increased risk of injury or death in case of exposure. We made one recommendation to help CBP provide its components with guidance, knowledge, and tools to handle and reverse overdoses from fentanyl and other opioids.Report NumberOIG-19-53Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2019
For your action is our final management alert, Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley, the purpose of which is to notify you of urgent issues that require immediate attention and action. Specifically, we encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.
- Executive Summary
CBP’s controls over the Global Entry Program do not always prevent ineligible and potentially high-risk Global Entry members from obtaining expedited entry into the United States. This occurred because CBP officers did not always comply with policies when reviewing Global Entry applications nor do CBP’s policies sufficiently help officers
determine an applicant’s level of risk. Additionally, during the airport arrival process, CBP officers granted some Global Entry members expedited entry without verifying the authenticity of their kiosk receipts. CBP officers also did not properly respond to a breach of the Daily Security Code. These weaknesses were due to officers not following policy, as well as CBP’s insufficient verification procedures. Unless CBP officers authenticate kiosk receipts, someone could use a fake receipt to enter the United States. Finally, CBP does not effectively monitor Global Entry to ensure members continue to meet program requirements. In particular, CBP did not conduct the required number of internal audits and did not use its Self-Inspection Program effectively. CBP’s lack of adherence to its compliance program’s policies and procedures creates vulnerabilities in Global Entry by allowing potentially ineligible members to continue to participate.Report NumberOIG-19-49Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2019