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CBP

  • Early Experiences with COVID-19 at Border Patrol Stations and OFO Ports of Entry

    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 Number
    OIG-20-69
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Five Laredo and San Antonio Area CBP Facilities Generally Complied with the National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search

    Executive 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 Number
    OIG-20-67
    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
  • DHS Inconsistently Implemented Administrative Forfeiture Authorities Under CAFRA

    Executive Summary

    DHS components used inconsistent processes for administrative forfeitures under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA).  Specifically, we found inconsistencies among DHS components regarding the forms used to notify property owners and the process for responding to claims.  Further, CBP inappropriately used waivers to extend deadlines for responding to claims.  We recommended DHS implement a department-wide structure to oversee component forfeiture activities across DHS by designating an office at headquarters for this role.  Additionally, DHS should develop Department-wide policies and procedures, as well as review component policies, to ensure forfeiture processes and practices are consistent.  We made two recommendations to improve oversight across DHS and provide consistent processes for handling administrative forfeitures.  DHS concurred with recommendation two, which we consider resolved and open, but did not concur with recommendation one, which is unresolved and open.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-66
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP Needs a Comprehensive Process for Conducting Covert Testing and Resolving Vulnerabilities - (REDACTED)

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not comprehensively plan and conduct its covert testing, use test results to address vulnerability, or widely share lessons learned.  CBP’s two covert testing groups do not use risk assessments or intelligence to plan and conduct covert tests at ports of entry and U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints, do not plan coordinated tests, and do not design system-wide tests.  This occurred because CBP has not provided adequate guidance on risk- and intelligence-based test planning, directed the groups to coordinate, given them the required authority, or established performance goals and measures for covert testing.  Following testing, CBP does not widely share covert test results, consistently make recommendations, or ensure corrective actions are taken.  Results are not widely shared because CBP has not defined roles and responsibilities for such sharing.  Covert testing groups do not make recommendations or ensure corrective actions are implemented due to insufficient authority and policies directing these actions.  Finally, CBP does not effectively manage covert testing groups to ensure data reliability, completeness, and compliance with security requirements due to leadership changes and limited staff.  Without comprehensive planning, incorporating lessons learned from test results, and program management accountability, CBP cannot ensure it addresses vulnerabilities, which may be exploited and threaten national security.  We recommended CBP develop policies and procedures for conducting covert testing and assign roles and responsibilities for oversight of covert testing groups.  We made seven recommendations that will strengthen its covert testing program.  CBP concurred with all seven recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-55
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP Has Not Demonstrated Acquisition Capabilities Needed to Secure the Southern Border

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not demonstrated the acquisition capabilities needed to effectively execute the Analyze/Select Phase of the Wall Acquisition Program.  Specifically, CBP did not conduct an Analysis of Alternatives to assess and select the most effective, appropriate, and affordable solutions to obtain operational control of the southern border as directed, but instead relied on prior, outdated border solutions to identify materiel alternatives for meeting its mission requirement.  CBP did not use a sound, well-documented methodology to identify and prioritize investments in areas along the border that would best benefit from physical barriers.  Additionally, the Department did not complete the required plan to execute the strategy to obtain and maintain control of the southern border, as required by its Comprehensive Southern Border Security Study and Strategy.  Without an Analysis of Alternatives, a documented and reliable prioritization process, or a plan, the likelihood that CBP will be able to obtain and maintain complete operational control of the southern border with mission-effective, appropriate, and affordable solutions is diminished.  We made three recommendations to improve CBP’s ongoing investments for obtaining operational control of the southern border.  DHS concurred with recommendation 2 but did not concur with recommendations 1 and 3. 

    Report Number
    OIG-20-52
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • DHS Has Limited Capabilities to Counter Illicit Unmanned Aircraft Systems

    Executive Summary

    DHS’ capability to counter illicit Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) activity remains limited.  The Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans did not execute a uniform department-wide approach, which prevented components authorized to conduct counter-UAS operations from expanding their capabilities.  This occurred because the Office of Policy did not obtain funding as directed by the Secretary to expand DHS’ counter-UAS capability.  We made four recommendations to improve the Department’s management and implementation of counter-UAS activities.  The Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans concurred with all four of our recommendations.      

    Report Number
    OIG-20-43
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Capping Report: CBP Struggled to Provide Adequate Detention Conditions During 2019 Migrant Surge

    Executive Summary

    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.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-38
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP Separated More Asylum-Seeking Families at Ports of Entry Than Reported and For Reasons Other Than Those Outlined in Public Statements

    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 Number
    OIG-20-35
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP's ACAS Program Did Not Always Prevent Air Carriers from Transporting High-Risk Cargo into the United States

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identified and targeted high-risk cargo shipments, CBP did not always prevent air carriers from transporting high-risk air cargo from foreign airports into the United States.  This occurred because neither CBP nor TSA developed adequate policies and procedures to ensure air carriers resolved referrals timely or appropriately.  We made four recommendations to CBP and TSA to mitigate a number of vulnerabilities in the Air Cargo Advance Screening Program.  CBP and TSA concurred with all four recommendations. 

    Report Number
    OIG-20-34
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
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