Methodological weaknesses in the Border Patrol’s Consequence Delivery System (CDS)—a process that annually identifies consequences as Most Effective and Efficient to deter illegal cross border activity in each sector–limit the rate’s usefulness for assessing CDS effectiveness, according a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit report.
CDS is supposed to be used as a process to classify each apprehended alien into criminal or noncriminal categories and apply consequences, such as federal prosecution. Each Border Patrol sector ranks up to eight consequences from Most to Least Effective and Efficient to reduce recidivism.
But, GAO found, it “found Border Patrol’s methodology does not account for an alien’s apprehension history beyond one fiscal year and neither accounts for nor excludes apprehended aliens for whom there is no record of removal after apprehension and who may have remained in the United States without an opportunity to recidivate.”
GAO’s analysis of recidivism for fiscal year 2015 considering these factors showed a 29 percent recidivism rate, compared to Border Patrol’s 14 percent recidivism rate. “Border Patrol could more accurately assess recidivism and CDS effectiveness by strengthening its recidivism rate methodology, such as by using an alien’s apprehension history beyond one fiscal year and excluding aliens for whom there is no record of removal from the United States,” GAO reported.
GAO said, “Agent application of consequences Border Patrol identified in CDS guidance as the Most Effective and Efficient has declined from 28 percent in FY 2013 to 18 percent in FY 2015 across the southwest border. In addition, Border Patrol has not assessed reasons for the relatively low application of consequences determined to be the Most Effective and Efficient consequence in each sector; but some agency officials stated that challenges include agents’ hesitation to apply consequences that require referral to federal partners facing capacity constraints, such as Department of Justice immigration courts."
"Assessing why agents do not apply the Most Effective and Efficient consequence could inform Border Patrol of actions needed to increase application of Most Effective and Efficient consequences to reduce recidivism," GAO explained. "Border Patrol established some mechanisms to facilitate monitoring field implementation of CDS, but lacked controls to ensure effective performance management. For example, six of nine field locations missed performance targets for application of the Most Effective and Efficient consequences in FY 2015.
“Ensuring consistent oversight of performance management would provide greater assurance that Border Patrol is most effectively using CDS to address cross-border illegal activity.”