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.
Consistent with CDC guidance, most Office of Inspector General employees are currently serving the American people remotely. We are determined to keep interruptions to our operations to a minimum, and we appreciate your patience during this time.
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- Executive SummaryReport NumberOIG-21-16Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
Five Laredo and San Antonio Area CBP Facilities Generally Complied with the National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and SearchExecutive Summary
During our unannounced inspections of five U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities in the Laredo and San Antonio areas of Texas in February 2020, three Border Patrol stations and two Office of Field Operation ports of entry we visited appeared to be operating in compliance with the Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS) standards we evaluated. We verified accessibility to water, food, toilets, sinks, basic hygiene supplies, and bedding. We observed clean facilities and verified that temperatures and ventilation in holding rooms were appropriate. Of the five facilities we visited, only one could provide on-site showers to detainees, but during our visits, no detainees were approaching the detention time threshold where a shower would be required. Because Border Patrol leadership directed all Border Patrol stations to implement Phase 2 of the enhanced medical screening ahead of the prescribed schedule outlined in CBP Directive 2100-004, the Border Patrol stations we visited were conducting alien intake health assessments using CBP Form 2500. These Ports of Entry had implemented Phase 1, but were not yet required to conduct Phase 2 assessments at the time of our inspection. We did not make any recommendations in this report.Report NumberOIG-20-67Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyKeywordsFiscal Year2020
Children Waited for Extended Periods in Vehicles to Be Reunified with Their Parents at ICE's Port Isabel Detention Center in July 2018Executive Summary
We determined that children brought to Port Isabel on July 15, 2018, waited extended periods, and in many cases overnight, to be reunited with their parents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was not prepared to promptly reunify all children who arrived at Port Isabel on the first day of attempted mass reunifications. ICE and U.S. Health and Human Services had fundamentally different understandings about the timing and pace of reunifications, and ICE personnel at Port Isabel underestimated the resources necessary to promptly out-process the parents of arriving children. As a result, some children waited in vehicles at Port Isabel, while others waited in unused detention cells, though all children were in climate-controlled environments and had continuous access to food, water, and restrooms. As the mass reunifications continued, ICE personnel responded to processing and space issues, which generally resulted in shorter wait times for children who arrived at Port Isabel closer to the court’s July 26, 2018 deadline. The report contains no recommendations.Report NumberOIG-20-65Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyFiscal Year2020
- Executive Summary
We found violations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards undermining the protection of detainees’ rights and the provision of a safe and healthy environment. Although the conditions varied among the facilities and not every problem was present at each, our observations, interviews with detainees and staff, and review of documents revealed several common issues. At three facilities, we found segregation practices infringing on detainee rights. Detainees at all four facilities had difficulties resolving issues through the grievance and communication systems, including allegations of verbal abuse by staff. Two facilities had issues with classifying detainees according to their risk levels, which could affect safety. Lastly, we identified living conditions at three facilities that violate ICE standards. We recommended the Acting Director of ICE ensure the Enforcement and Removal Operations field offices overseeing the detention facilities covered in the report address identified issues and ensure facility compliance with relevant detention standards. We made one recommendation that will help ICE ensure compliance with detention standards. ICE concurred with the recommendation.Report NumberOIG-20-45Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyOversight AreaKeywordsFiscal Year2020
- 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 NumberOIG-20-06Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyOversight AreaKeywordsFiscal Year2020