CBP officials had legitimate reasons for placing lookouts on American journalists, attorneys, and others suspected of organizing or being associated with the migrant caravan. However, many CBP officials were unaware of CBP’s policy related to placing lookouts and, therefore, may have inadvertently placed lookouts on these Americans, which did not fully comport with the policy. Additionally, CBP officials did not remove lookouts promptly once they were no longer necessary and, as a result, subjected some of these U.S. citizens to repeated and unnecessary secondary inspections. During the same time period, a CBP official requested that Mexico deny entry to caravan associates, including 14 Americans. Unlike CBP’s legitimate reasons for placing lookouts on these U.S. citizens, CBP had no genuine basis for requesting Mexico to deny entry to these individuals. On several other occasions throughout Operation Secure Line, other CBP officials also improperly shared the names and sensitive information of U.S. citizens with Mexico. We made six recommendations that will improve CBP’s controls on placing and removing lookouts and sharing Americans’ sensitive information with foreign countries. CBP concurred with all six recommendations.
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-21-62Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyFiscal 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