The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that El Centro and San Diego facilities generally met U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) standards but struggled with prolonged detention and data integrity.
In March 2022, OIG conducted unannounced inspections of four CBP facilities in the El Centro and San Diego areas of California, specifically two U.S. Border Patrol stations and two Office of Field Operations (OFO) ports of entry. The inspections and subsequent analysis showed instances of prolonged detention for migrants and overcrowding in some holding facilities. In one Border Patrol station, the prolonged custody times contributed to overcrowding in half of its holding rooms. Of the 447 detainees in custody during our site visits, CBP held 187 (or 42 percent) longer than prescribed by the National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS), which generally limit detention in these facilities to 72 hours. OIG found that this prolonged detention and overcrowding put a strain on CBP’s resources, resulting in inconsistent compliance with TEDS standards in the El Centro and San Diego areas.
The facilities OIG inspected generally met standards related to providing drinking water, snacks, meals, and supplies, but Border Patrol’s compliance with standards for access to showers, handling of personal property, and access to interpretation services was found to be inconsistent.
Finally, OIG said Border Patrol’s and OFO’s electronic systems of record had data integrity issues related to tracking of medical services, showers, welfare checks, and meals.
The watchdog has made two recommendations to improve management of and conditions in CBP short-term detention facilities in the El Centro and San Diego areas. First, to refine current, and identify new, strategies and solutions to manage delays in detainee transfers to partner agencies and communicate those improvements throughout the El Centro sector and San Diego field office; and second, to conduct refresher training on recording information in custody logs, highlighting the importance of accurately accounting for all actions completed by CBP and contract personnel, such as health interviews, meals, and showers. CBP concurred with both recommendations and stated actions taken and planned to address them.