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southwest border

  • DHS Has Not Effectively Implemented the Prompt Asylum Pilot Programs

    Executive Summary

    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.

    Report Number
    OIG-21-16
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2021
  • CBP Has Taken Steps to Limit Processing of Undocumented Aliens at Ports of Entry

    Executive Summary

    In 2018, senior DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leaders issued public statements urging undocumented aliens seeking asylum to enter the United States legally at ports of entry, while also directing ports of entry to focus on other priority missions and institute practices to limit the number of undocumented aliens processed at ports of entry.  CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) personnel at 24 Southwest Border ports of entry implemented a practice known as queue management, where an officer manned a “limit line” position at or near the U.S.-Mexico border to control the number of undocumented aliens entering the port.  We identified that seven of these ports stopped processing virtually all undocumented aliens, including asylum seekers, by redirecting them to other ports located miles away.  This redirection contravenes CBP’s longstanding practice to process all aliens at a “Class A” port of entry or reclassify the port of entry.  Additionally, CBP officers at four ports returned undocumented aliens to Mexico despite a legal requirement to process asylum claims of aliens that are physically present in the United States.  We made three recommendations aimed at bringing CBP’s practices in line with Federal law and regulations and promoting efficient processing of undocumented aliens.  CBP concurred with two of the recommendations and did not concur with one.  CBP defended its decision to redirect undocumented aliens at seven ports citing the availability of operational capacity and resources and the need to maintain a discretionary balance between mission requirements at each port.

    Report Number
    OIG-21-02
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2021
  • CBP Did Not Adequately Oversee FY 2019 Appropriated Humanitarian Funding

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) quickly deployed funding for consumables and medical services to address the needs of migrants in its custody along the southwest border, but did not adequately plan to ensure it used fiscal year 2019 funds effectively.  Specifically, U.S. Border Patrol’s process did not adequately ensure taxpayer funds were used to purchase items required to meet migrants’ basic needs as Congress intended.  Additionally, CBP relied on a single contracting officer’s representative, rather than onsite personnel, to oversee its medical contract because it did not include onsite monitoring when expanding the contract across multiple sectors.  We made four recommendations to CBP to improve its consumables reimbursement process and medical contract oversight.  CBP concurred with all four recommendations.  

    Report Number
    OIG-20-78
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection Compliance with Use of Force Policy for Incidents on November 25, 2018 and January 1, 2019 - Law Enforcement Sensitive

    Executive Summary

    We determined CBP’s use of tear gas on these dates, in response to physical threats, appeared to be within CBP’s use of force policy.  However, U.S. Border Patrol obtained an acoustic device and used it in an “alert tone” mode on November 25, 2018, which did not conform to CBP’s Use of Force policy because Border Patrol did not get advance authorization to have a device with this capability.  CBP’s Use of Force policy would have permitted use of the alert tone in a manner reasonable and necessary for self-defense or the defense of another person in threatening, emergent situations.  However, the policy does not authorize the carrying of any weapon for duty use that is not authorized, included on the Authorized Equipment List, or specifically approved by the LESC director.  Using the acoustic device in alert mode may increase the risk of temporary or permanent hearing loss to those exposed to the sound and thereby increase the Government’s liability.  CBP’s own internal investigation of the November 25, 2018 incident regarding the acoustic device was incomplete and inaccurate and did not provide all the information CBP needed to determine whether the CBP officer and Border Patrol agents involved had complied with the use of force policy.  In addition, not all Border Patrol agents had the required training and certification to carry less-lethal devices.  This occurred because Border Patrol lacked internal controls to ensure agents had fulfilled these requirements.  Border Patrol agents using less-lethal devices for which they are not certified could result in unintended serious injury or death, increasing the Government’s liability.  We made four recommendations to CBP to ensure compliance with its Use of Force policy and improve its investigative process.  CBP concurred with all four recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-64
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Management Alert - DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding Among Single Adults at El Paso Del Norte Processing Center

    Executive Summary

    According to CBP statistics, the number of southwest border migrant apprehensions during the first seven months of FY 2019 has in general already surpassed that of the total apprehensions for each of the previous four fiscal years. At the sector level, El Paso has experienced the sharpest increase in apprehensions when comparing the first seven months of FY 2019 to the same period in FY 2018. The purpose  is to notify you of urgent issues that require immediate attention and action. Specifically, we are recommending that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center (PDT).

    Report Number
    OIG-19-46
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019