FLETC implemented robust protocols to respond to and mitigate COVID-19 at its Glynco training facility. Before reopening in June 2020, FLETC developed a formal plan to resume in-person training. Through this plan, along with other policies and procedures, FLETC established protocols in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and medical expertise. DHS students and component officials we spoke with confirmed that these protocols were in place and told us that, overall, they were effective. However, they also raised concerns related to students socializing inappropriately, and not following some requirements such as mask-wearing. In instances such as these, FLETC was largely reliant on students’ home agencies to take action to reinforce compliance among their students with safety protocols, or to take disciplinary action, if necessary. As a result of its measures, FLETC’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests was lower than that of its surrounding county. We also found, however, that FLETC did not always follow its own protocols for housing assignments related to COVID-19. For example, some students who were not positive for COVID-19 or were not quarantined for exposure to COVID-19 were still housed in the isolation dormitory. Some of the students we spoke with who were incorrectly assigned to the isolation dormitory told us that they did not feel safe. We made one recommendation to the FLETC Director to improve COVID-19 student-housing protocols. FLETC concurred with the recommendation.
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.
Information and guidance about COVID-19 is available at coronavirus.gov.
- Executive SummaryReport NumberOIG-21-73Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
FEMA did not have reliable data to inform allocation decisions and ensure accurate adjudication of resource requests, it did not have a process to allocate the limited supply of PPE, and FEMA’s strategic documents did not clearly outline roles and responsibilities to lead the Federal response. We made three recommendations that FEMA improve the reliability of WebEOC, formally document the policies and procedures for allocating critical lifesaving supplies and equipment, and that FEMA work with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to clarify the agencies’ pandemic response roles and responsibilities under Stafford Act declarations. FEMA concurred with all three recommendations which remain open and resolved.Report NumberOIG-21-64Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
During our unannounced inspection of Otay Mesa in San Diego, California, we identified violations of ICE detention standards that compromised the health, safety, and rights of detainees. Otay Mesa complied with standards for classification and generally provided sufficient medical care to detainees. In addressing COVID-19, Otay Mesa did not consistently enforce precautions including use of facial coverings and social distancing. Overall, we found that Otay Mesa did not meet standards for grievances, segregation, or staff-detainee communications. Specifically, Otay Mesa did not respond timely to detainee grievances and did not forward staff misconduct grievances to ICE as required. In addition, Otay Mesa was not consistently providing required services for detainees in segregation including access to recreation, legal calls, laundry, linen exchange, mail, legal materials, commissary, and law library. Further, ICE did not consistently respond to detainee requests timely and did not specify times for visits with detainees. Finally, we determined the declining detainee population at Otay Mesa caused ICE to pay more than $22 million for unused bed space under a guaranteed minimum contract. We made seven recommendations to ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations to ensure the San Diego ERO Field Office overseeing Otay Mesa addresses identified issues and ensures facility compliance with relevant detention standards. ICE concurred with six recommendations and non-concurred with one recommendation.Report NumberOIG-21-61Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not conduct COVID-19 testing for migrants who enter CBP custody and is not required to do so. Instead, CBP relies on local public health systems to test symptomatic individuals. According to CBP officials, as a frontline law enforcement agency, it does not have the necessary resources to conduct such testing. For migrants that are transferred or released from CBP custody into the United States, CBP coordinates with DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other Federal, state, and local partners for COVID-19 testing of migrants. In addition, although DHS generally follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for COVID-19 preventative measures, the DHS’ multi-layered COVID-19 testing framework does not require CBP to conduct COVID-19 testing at CBP facilities. Further, DHS’ Chief Medical Officer does not have the authority to direct or enforce COVID-19 testing procedures. We recommended DHS reassess its COVID-19 response framework to identify areas for improvement to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while balancing its primary mission of securing the border. Additionally, we recommended DHS ensure the components continue to coordinate with the DHS Chief Medical Officer and provide available resources needed to operate safely and effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic and any future public health crisis. We made two recommendations to improve DHS’ response to COVID-19 at the southwest border. DHS concurred with both recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-60Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyFiscal Year2021
ICE’s Management of COVID-19 in Its Detention Facilities Provides Lessons Learned for Future Pandemic ResponsesExecutive Summary
ICE has taken various actions to prevent the pandemic’s spread among detainees and staff at their detention facilities. At the nine facilities we remotely inspected, these measures included maintaining adequate supplies of PPE such as face masks, enhanced cleaning, and proper screening for new detainees and staff. However, we found other areas in which detention facilities struggled to properly manage the health and safety of detainees. For example, we observed instances where staff and detainees did not consistently wear face masks or socially distance. In addition, we noted that some facilities did not consistently manage medical sick calls and did not regularly communicate with detainees regarding their COVID-19 test results. Although we found that ICE was able to decrease the detainee population to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, information on detainee transfers was limited. We also found that testing of both detainees and staff was insufficient, and that ICE headquarters did not generally provide effective oversight of their detention facilities during the pandemic. Overall, ICE must resolve these issues to ensure it can meet the challenges of not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but future pandemics as well. We made six recommendations to improve ICE’s management of COVID-19 in its detention facilities. ICE concurred with all six recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-58Issue DateDocument FileOversight AreaKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
During our unannounced inspection of Adams in Natchez, Mississippi, we identified violations of ICE detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees. Although Adams generally provided sufficient medical care, we identified one case in which the medical unit examined a sick detainee but did not send the detainee to the hospital for urgent medical treatment, and the detainee died. We also found the medical unit did not document outcomes of detainee sick calls or ensure proper review and follow-up of detainee test results. In addressing COVID-19, Adams took some measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but detainees did not consistently follow some guidelines, including use of facial coverings and social distancing, which may have contributed to repeated COVID-19 transmissions. Adams did not meet standards for classification, grievances, segregation, or staff-detainee communications. Specifically, we discovered a low custody detainee comingled with higher custody detainees, and found the facility did not always identify detainees with special vulnerabilities or those requiring translation services. Adams also did not respond timely to detainee grievances and was not consistently providing required care for detainees in segregation including access to recreation, legal calls, laundry, linen exchange, mail, legal materials, commissary, law library, and to ICE forms and drop-boxes for detainees to make requests. In addition, ICE did not consistently respond to detainee requests timely. Finally, we determined the declining detainee population at Adams resulted in ICE paying more than $17 million for unused bed space under a guaranteed minimum contract. We made seven recommendations to ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to ensure the New Orleans ERO Field Office overseeing Adams addresses identified issues and ensures facility compliance with relevant detention standards. ICE concurred with all seven recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-46Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
During our unannounced inspection of Pulaski County Jail, we identified violations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees. In addressing COVID-19, Pulaski did not consistently enforce precautions including use of facial coverings and social distancing, which may have contributed to repeated COVID-19 transmissions at the facility. Pulaski did not meet standards for classification, medical care, segregation, or detainee communication. We found that the facility was not providing a color-coded visual identification system based on the criminal history of detainees, causing inadvertent comingling of a detainee with significant criminal history with detainees who had no criminal history. The facility generally provided sufficient medical care, but did not provide emergency dental services and the medical unit did not have procedures in place for chronic care follow-up. We also found that the facility was not consistently providing required oversight for detainees in segregation by conducting routine wellness checks. Finally, we found deficiencies in staff communication practices with detainees. Specifically, ICE did not specify times for staff to visit detainees and could not provide documentation that it completed facility visits with detainees during the pandemic. We did find that Pulaski generally complied with the ICE detention standard for grievances. We made five recommendations to ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to ensure the Chicago ERO Field Office overseeing Pulaski addresses identified issues and ensures facility compliance with relevant detention standards. ICE concurred with all five recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-32Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
We surveyed staff at Border Patrol stations and OFO ports of entry from April 22, 2020 to May 1, 2020. The 136 Border Patrol stations and 307 OFO ports of entry that responded to our survey described various actions they have taken to prevent and mitigate the pandemic’s spread among travelers, detained individuals, and staff. These actions include increased cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, and having personal protective equipment for staff, as well as supplies available to those individuals with whom they come into contact. However, facilities reported concerns with their inability to practice social distancing and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to the close-contact nature of their work. Regarding staffing, facilities reported decreases in current staff availability due to COVID-19, but have contingency plans in place to ensure continued operations. The facilities expressed concerns regarding staff availability, however, if there were an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility. Overall, the majority of respondents reported that their facilities were prepared to address COVID-19.Report NumberOIG-20-69Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyKeywordsFiscal Year2020
- Executive Summary
We surveyed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities from April 8-20, 2020 regarding their experiences and challenges managing COVID-19 among detainees in their custody and among their staff. The facilities that responded to our survey described various actions they have taken to prevent and mitigate the pandemic’s spread among detainees. These actions include increased cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, and isolating new detainees, when possible, as a precautionary measure. However, facilities reported concerns with their inability to practice social distancing among detainees, and to isolate or quarantine individuals who may be infected with COVID-19. Regarding staffing, facilities reported decreases in current staff availability due to COVID-19, but have contingency plans in place to ensure continued operations. The facilities also expressed concerns with the availability of staff, as well as protective equipment for staff, if there were an outbreak of COVID-19 in the facility. Overall, almost all facilities stated they were prepared to address COVID-19, but expressed concerns if the pandemic continued to spread. At the time of our survey, 23 facilities reported having detainees who had tested positive for COVID-19; this number had risen to 48 facilities as of May 11, 2020.Report NumberOIG-20-42Issue DateDocument FileOversight AreaFiscal Year2020