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Border Security

  • 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 (159.39 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 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 and coordinated with the local medical examiner’s office.  
    •    The state medical examiner's autopsy report found the child died from sepsis caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.  

    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
  • DOJ and DHS OIGs Release a Joint Review of Law Enforcement Cooperation on the Southwest Border between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations

    For Information Contact

    DOJ OIG: John Lavinsky, (202) 514-3435

    DHS OIG: Erica Paulson, (202) 981-6000

    For Immediate Release

    Download PDF (103.34 KB)

    Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz and Department Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari announced today the release of a joint review examining law enforcement cooperation on the Southwest border between DOJ’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  The FBI and HSI share many of the same statutory authorities to investigate certain crimes, underscoring the need for agents to share information and manage investigative overlap effectively.

    The Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) found that the majority (63%) of FBI and HSI Southwest border agents did not encounter cooperation failures, and agents reported that task forces improved cooperation and allowed for increased collaboration between the FBI and HSI.  However, of the 37% of agents who did experience cooperation failures, 87% reported at least one negative impact as a result, such as loss of trust, unnecessarily prolonged investigations, and failure to gather evidence or apprehend a target. 
    The report identified several factors that may have contributed to these cooperation failures, including:

    • The FBI and HSI had inconsistent practices, lacked specific policies, and many agents were unaware of requirements related to deconfliction. In February 2019, ICE issued an agency-specific deconfliction policy that may result in improvements.

    • Many agents did not understand the other agency’s mission and authorities and did not trust the other agency or its personnel. 

    • DOJ and DHS do not have a memorandum of understanding related to cooperation on the Southwest border. 
    The DOJ OIG and DHS OIG made five recommendations to the FBI and HSI to address these cooperation challenges.  The FBI agreed with all five recommendations.  HSI agreed with three of the recommendations and did not concur with two of them.
    Today’s report is available:

    • On the DOJ OIG website: https://oig.justice.gov/reports/2019/e1903.pdf

    • On the DHS OIG website: https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2019-08/OIG-19-57-Jul19.pdf

    • On Oversight.gov: https://www.oversight.gov/report/doj/joint-review-law-enforcement-cooperation-southwest-border-between-federal-bureau

    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
  • Management Alert - CBP Did Not Adequately Protect Employees from Possible Fentanyl Exposure

    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 Number
    OIG-19-53
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
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