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Border Security

  • 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
  • CBP's Global Entry Program Is Vulnerable to Exploitation

    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 Number
    OIG-19-49
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • Management Alert - CBP Needs to Address Serious Performance Issues on the Accenture Hiring Contract

    Executive Summary

    In November 2017, CBP awarded Accenture a $297 million contract to help meet the demands of recruiting and hiring agents and officers under the President’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. The contract includes 1 base year, with 4 option years, to hire 7,500 fully qualified applicants, including Customs and Border Protection Officers, Border Patrol Agents, and Air and Marine Interdiction Agents. In its first year, CBP’s contract with Accenture has already taken longer to deploy and delivered less capability than promised. Accenture is nowhere near satisfying its 7,500-person hiring goal over the next 5 years. Further, CBP has used significant staffing and resources to help Accenture do the job for which it was contracted. As such, we are concerned that CBP may have paid Accenture for services and tools not provided. Without addressing the issues we have identified, CBP risks wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on a hastily approved contract that is not meeting its proposed performance expectations. CBP must hold the contractor accountable, mitigate risk, and devise a strategy to ensure results without additional costs to the Government.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-13
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • CBP's Searches of Electronic Devices at Ports of Entry

    Executive Summary

    The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA) requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to establish standard operating procedures (SOP) for searching, reviewing, retaining, and sharing information in communication, electronic, or digital devices at U.S. ports of entry. We determined that CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) did not always conduct the searches at U.S. ports of entry according to its SOPs. Specifically, because of inadequate supervision to ensure OFO officers properly documented searches, OFO cannot maintain accurate quantitative data or identify and address performance problems related to these searches. These deficiencies in supervision, guidance, and equipment management, combined with a lack of performance measures, limit OFO’s ability to detect and deter illegal activities related to terrorism; national security; human, drug, and bulk cash smuggling; and child pornography.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-10
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
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