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.
Ports of Entry
- Executive SummaryReport NumberOIG-20-38Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyOversight AreaKeywordsFiscal Year2020
- 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 NumberOIG-20-35Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyOversight AreaFiscal Year2020