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CBP

  • 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
  • DHS Should Seek a Unified Approach when Purchasing and Using Handheld Chemical Identification Devices

    Executive Summary

    DHS does not have a unified approach for procuring and using handheld chemical identification devices despite the widespread use of these devices across multiple components.  We recommended DHS establish a process to coordinate joint needs across components and maximize savings from strategic sourcing opportunities.  We made two recommendations that should help improve unity of effort in procuring and using handheld chemical identification devices.  DHS concurred with recommendation 1 but did not concur with recommendation 2.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-16
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Lack of Internal Controls Could Affect the Validity of CBP’s Drawback Claims

    Executive Summary

    Between 2011 and 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed an average of $896 million in drawback claims annually; however, a lack of internal controls could affect the validity and accuracy of the drawback claims amount.  This occurred, in part, because CBP did not address internal control deficiencies over drawback claims.  The Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2018 Independent Auditor’s Report on Financial Statements and Internal Control over Financial Reporting identified reoccurring CBP internal control deficiencies over drawback claims.  CBP has outlined plans to correct these deficiencies by implementing an updated data processing system and revising legislative procedures.  Without correcting these repeated control deficiencies, CBP cannot determine drawback claims’ validity and accuracy.  These corrective actions are ongoing; therefore, we could not verify during our audit whether CBP remedied the identified internal control deficiencies. Our report contains no recommendations.  

    Report Number
    OIG-20-07
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • DHS Lacked Technology Needed to Successfully Account for Separated Migrant Families

    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 Number
    OIG-20-06
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • CBP, ICE, TSA, and Secret Service Have Taken Steps to Address Illegal and Prescription Opioid Use

    Executive Summary

    From fiscal years 2015 through 2018, in the midst of a growing opioid epidemic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, and U.S. Secret Service appropriately disciplined employees whose drug test results indicated illegal opioid use, based on their employee standards of conduct and tables of offenses and penalties.  Additionally, during the same time period, components have either implemented or are taking steps to evaluate whether employees using prescription opioids can effectively conduct their duties.  For example, components have established policies prohibiting the use of prescription opioids that may impact an employee’s ability to work, in addition to requiring employees to report such prescription opioid use.  They have also implemented or are in the process of implementing measures to evaluate the fitness for duty of employees using prescription opioids.  These policies establish consistent standards components can use to ensure they are allowing employees to use legally-prescribed opioids, while also ensuring their workforce is capable of effectively performing their duties.  We made two recommendations to improve components’ oversight of illegal and prescription opioid use by employees.  CBP and Secret Service concurred with the recommendations, which are both resolved and open.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-05
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the DHS

    Executive Summary

    Based on our recent and prior audits, inspections, special reviews, and investigations, we consider the most serious management and performance challenges currently facing DHS to be: (1) Managing Programs and Operations Effectively and Efficiently during times of Changes in Leadership, Vacancies, Hiring Difficulties; (2) Coordinating Efforts to Address the Sharp Increase in Migrants Seeking to Enter the United States through our Southern Border; (3) Ensuring Cybersecurity in an Age When Confidentiality, Integrity, and the Availability of Information Technology Are Essential to Mission Operations; (4) Ensuring Proper Financial Planning, Payments, and Internal Controls; and (5) Improving FEMA’s Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts.  Addressing and overcoming these challenges requires firm leadership; targeted resources; and a commitment to mastering management fundamentals, data collection and dissemination, cost-benefit/risk analysis, and performance measurement. 

    Report Number
    OIG-20-02
    Issue Date
    Document File
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Evaluation of DHS' Information Security Program for Fiscal Year 2018

    Executive Summary

    DHS’ information security program was effective for fiscal year 2018 because the Department earned the targeted maturity rating, “Managed and Measurable” (Level 4) in four of five functions, as compared to last year’s lower overall rating, “Consistently Implemented” (Level 3). We attributed DHS’ progress to improvements in information security risk, configuration management practices, continuous monitoring, and more effective security training. By addressing the remaining deficiencies, DHS can further improve its security program ensuring its systems adequately protect the critical and sensitive data they store and process.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-60
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • Management Alert - CBP Did Not Adequately Protect Employees from Possible Fentanyl Exposure

    Executive Summary

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plays a critical role in the Nation’s efforts to interdict dangerous substances and prohibited items at U.S. ports of entry and keep these materials from harming the American public. An important part of CBP’s mission is preventing foreign countries from importing illegal drugs such as opioids into the U.S. CBP is experiencing a rise in seizures of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl that upon exposure can kill in minutes.  CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) Fines Penalties and Forfeitures Division stores, manages, and disposes seized property, including illicit drugs such as fentanyl.  During our ongoing audit of CBP’s storage of seized drugs at permanent drug vaults we visited, we determined that CBP does not adequately protect its staff from the dangers of powerful synthetic opioids.  Specifically, CBP has not always made medications designed to treat narcotic overdose available in case of accidental exposure.  This occurred because CBP lacks an official policy requiring standard workplace practices for handling fentanyl and safeguarding personnel against exposure.  In addition, CBP does not require mandatory training for its staff to provide an understanding of the hazards of fentanyl and methods to combat accidental exposure.  As a result, CBP staff is at increased risk of injury or death in case of exposure.  We made one recommendation to help CBP provide its components with guidance, knowledge, and tools to handle and reverse overdoses from fentanyl and other opioids.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-53
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
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