In November 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, specifically two U.S. Border Patrol facilities in the El Paso sector and one Office of Field Operations (OFO) port of entry (POE) in El Paso, Texas.
At the time of inspection, Border Patrol held 1,903 detainees in custody at the El Paso processing center (M-CPC). Of the 190 detainees OIG sampled, 48 percent were ultimately held in custody longer than specified in the National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS), which generally limit detention to 72 hours. The M-CPC also was overcrowded, and the increased migrant encounters exacerbated staffing challenges for El Paso Border Patrol, making compliance with some TEDS standards difficult.
OIG found that Border Patrol facilities generally met TEDS standards to provide drinking water, meals and snacks, access to toilets, sinks, basic hygiene supplies, and bedding. However, compliance with standards such as segregating males, females, and juveniles; managing property; providing regularly scheduled meals and showers; and maintaining cleanliness of holding rooms was inconsistent.
OIG also found data integrity issues in Border Patrol’s electronic system of record, e3. OIG reviewed a sample of 20 custody logs for detainees held by Border Patrol at the M-CPC and found all 20 had duplicate entries and gaps in entries for custodial actions. For example, snacks, meals, blankets, clothing, mats, and dental hygiene products were recorded as provided twice within minutes in logs. OIG found gaps in custody logs with no entries made for 20 hours, and numerous gaps in entries of 15, 12, and 9 hours.
OIG has recommended that the Border Patrol El Paso Sector Chief develop additional strategies and solutions to manage delays in detainee transfers to partners and implement improvements throughout the El Paso sector when the holding facilities in the sector are over capacity. CBP agreed and noted actions taken to address this recommendation, including use of expedited processing pathways, transfer of detainees via ground and air transportation to Border Patrol sectors with available capacity, actively monitoring detainee time in custody and processing status, and strengthening communications channels.
OIG has also called for a data integrity review. CBP concurred and expects to complete this by October 31, 2023.
The Paso Del Norte OFO POE had five detainees in custody and met the TEDS standards OIG could observe.
In February 2023, OIG returned to the El Paso area for announced follow-up visits.