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CBP

Customs and Border Protection

  • Capping Report: CBP Struggled to Provide Adequate Detention Conditions During 2019 Migrant Surge

    Executive Summary

    During 2019, there was a surge in Southwest Border crossings between ports of entry, resulting in 851,508 Border Patrol apprehensions and contributing to what senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials described as an “unprecedented border security and humanitarian crisis.”  Our unannounced inspections revealed that, under these challenging circumstances, CBP struggled to meet detention standards.  Specifically, several Border Patrol stations we visited exceeded their maximum capacity.  Although Border Patrol established temporary holding facilities to alleviate overcrowding, it struggled to limit detention to the 72 hours generally permitted, as options for transferring detainees out of CBP custody to long-term facilities were limited.  Also, even after deploying medical professionals to more efficiently provide access to medical care, overcrowding made it difficult for the Border Patrol to manage contagious illnesses.  Finally, in some locations, Border Patrol did not meet certain standards for detainee care, such as offering children access to telephone calls and safeguarding detainee property.  In contrast to Border Patrol, which could not control apprehensions, CBP’s ports of entry could limit detainee access, and generally met applicable detention standards.  Supplementing a May 2019 Management Alert recommendation, we made two additional recommendations regarding access of unaccompanied alien children to telephones and proper handling of detainee property.  CBP concurred with the recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-38
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP Separated More Asylum-Seeking Families at Ports of Entry Than Reported and For Reasons Other Than Those Outlined in Public Statements

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field operations (OFO) personnel at ports of entry had separated 60 asylum-seeking families between May 6 and July 9, 2018, despite CBP’s claim that it had separated only 7 such families.  More than half of those separations were based solely on the asylum-seeking parents’ prior non-violent immigration violations, which appeared to be inconsistent with official DHS public messaging.  After a June 27, 2018 court ruling, CBP issued specific guidance, and the ports separated fewer families in the prior months.  Despite the new guidance, we continue to have concerns about DHS’ ability to accurately identify and address all family separations due to data reliability issues.  In late June 2018, CBP modified its system for tracking aliens at the ports of entry to capture family separation data consistently, but it could not provide a reliable number of families separated before June 2018.  We made one recommendation that will help CBP’s data collection.  CBP concurred with our recommendation.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-35
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP's ACAS Program Did Not Always Prevent Air Carriers from Transporting High-Risk Cargo into the United States

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identified and targeted high-risk cargo shipments, CBP did not always prevent air carriers from transporting high-risk air cargo from foreign airports into the United States.  This occurred because neither CBP nor TSA developed adequate policies and procedures to ensure air carriers resolved referrals timely or appropriately.  We made four recommendations to CBP and TSA to mitigate a number of vulnerabilities in the Air Cargo Advance Screening Program.  CBP and TSA concurred with all four recommendations. 

    Report Number
    OIG-20-34
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • DHS Should Seek a Unified Approach when Purchasing and Using Handheld Chemical Identification Devices

    Executive Summary

    DHS does not have a unified approach for procuring and using handheld chemical identification devices despite the widespread use of these devices across multiple components.  We recommended DHS establish a process to coordinate joint needs across components and maximize savings from strategic sourcing opportunities.  We made two recommendations that should help improve unity of effort in procuring and using handheld chemical identification devices.  DHS concurred with recommendation 1 but did not concur with recommendation 2.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-16
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • DHS OIG Completes Investigation of the Death of Seven-Year-Old Guatemalan Child

    For Information Contact

    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

    Download PDF (158.54 KB)

    The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently completed an investigation into the death of a Guatemalan child who died in U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) custody.  

    The investigation found no misconduct or malfeasance by DHS personnel:

    •    On December 6, 2018, a 7-year-old child and her father were apprehended in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  
    •    On December 7, 2018, during transport from Antelope Wells to another USBP facility 90 miles away in Lordsburg, New Mexico, the child’s father reported that she was ill with a fever and vomiting.  The child also started having seizures.  
    •    When the child arrived at the USBP station in Lordsburg, USBP Emergency Medical Technicians initiated medical care and flew the child to the hospital by commercial air ambulance.  
    •    USBP personnel drove the father to the hospital.
    •    The child was pronounced dead at the hospital the next day. 
    •    OIG conducted a detailed investigation and coordinated with the local medical examiner’s office.  
    •    The state medical examiner’s autopsy report found the child died of natural causes due to sequelae of Streptococcal sepsis.

    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
  • DHS OIG Completes Investigation of the Death of Eight-Year-Old Guatemalan Child

    For Information Contact

    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

    Download PDF (140.75 KB)

    The Office of the Inspector General Completes Investigation of the Death of Eight-Year-Old Guatemalan Child Who Died in U.S. Border Patrol Custody

    The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) completed an investigation into the death of a Guatemalan child who died in U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) custody.  

    The investigation found no misconduct or malfeasance by DHS personnel:

    •    On December 18, 2018, an 8-year-old child and his father were apprehended near El Paso, Texas.  
    •    On December 23, 2018, they were transported to the Alamogordo, New Mexico USBP Checkpoint to await family placement.
    •    On December 24, 2018, a USBP agent noticed that the child appeared ill and interviewed the father, who requested medical treatment for his son.  
    •    USBP transported the child and the child’s father to the nearest hospital for evaluation and treatment.  
    •    The hospital staff diagnosed the child with an upper respiratory infection, prescribed amoxicillin and acetaminophen, and discharged the child, who was returned to the USBP facility. 
    •    USBP personnel obtained and administered the prescriptions to the child.  
    •    The child’s condition improved briefly, and subsequently worsened.
    •    USBP again transported the child and father to the hospital; upon arrival, the child was unresponsive and pronounced dead.
    •    OIG conducted a detailed investigation, with assistance from CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and coordinated with the local medical examiner’s office.  
    •    The state medical examiner's autopsy report found the cause of death was “complications of influenza B infection with Staphylococcus aureus superinfection and sepsis.”  The investigation did not reveal evidence that USBP personnel were aware that the child was diagnosed with influenza B.

    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
  • Lack of Internal Controls Could Affect the Validity of CBP’s Drawback Claims

    Executive Summary

    Between 2011 and 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed an average of $896 million in drawback claims annually; however, a lack of internal controls could affect the validity and accuracy of the drawback claims amount.  This occurred, in part, because CBP did not address internal control deficiencies over drawback claims.  The Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2018 Independent Auditor’s Report on Financial Statements and Internal Control over Financial Reporting identified reoccurring CBP internal control deficiencies over drawback claims.  CBP has outlined plans to correct these deficiencies by implementing an updated data processing system and revising legislative procedures.  Without correcting these repeated control deficiencies, CBP cannot determine drawback claims’ validity and accuracy.  These corrective actions are ongoing; therefore, we could not verify during our audit whether CBP remedied the identified internal control deficiencies. Our report contains no recommendations.  

    Report Number
    OIG-20-07
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • DHS Lacked Technology Needed to Successfully Account for Separated Migrant Families

    Executive Summary

    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.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-06
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
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