Between February 2019 and April 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued generally accurate “notices to appear” (NTA) to migrant detainees to initiate the migrant’s removal proceeding, although some inconsistency was found, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported.
CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) attributed the lack of consistency to the increase in CBP workload, with NTA issuances increasing by 80 percent between February 2019 and February 2020. According to OIG’s report, one Border Patrol official said supervisors could not thoroughly check migrant’s A-files containing NTAs due to the volume of arrests at that time.
During the February 2019 through April 2020 period, CBP issued 106 NTAs, with 86 NTAs containing no errors and the remaining 20 NTAs consisting of one or more errors, OIG said. From the 20 NTAs containing errors, there were 10 errors that did not meet legal sufficiency.
According to OIG, there were three errors in which the date and time of the detainee’s removal hearing was included in the NTA, five errors where the NTA was missing the title or signature of issuing or serving officer, one error where an agent signer on behalf of another agent and one error where the NTA date served preceded the preparation date.
More inaccuracies include one officer not indicating on the NTA that it was served in person while the migrant signed the NTA indicating that it was served in person, the report said. Ten NTA inaccuracies came from Border Patrol agents checking boxes that agents are not supposed to fill out.
OIG concluded that OFO and Border Patrol do not have standard operating procedures in place to conduct quality control checks or supervisory checklists for NTAs. While some sectors have PowerPoint slides and other resources, none of these resources address the inaccuracies seen on NTAs.
One recommendation was made to CBP’s Executive Director of the Office of Field Operations’ Admissibility and Passenger Programs and the Deputy Chief of Border Patrol’s Law Enforcement Operations Directorate to implement procedures that will create quality control. The CBP did not concur with the recommendation made by OIG.
“CBP indicated the recommendation was overcome by events,” the report said. “CBP requested that we [OIG] consider the recommendation resolved and closed.” OIG did in fact close the recommendation after the Secretary of Homeland Security issued a memorandum terminating Migrant Protection Protocols on June 1, 2021, which occurred after the watchdog issued its draft report to the Department of Homeland Security.
While the inaccuracies found in NTAs was not harmful for the Federal Government or migrant, more time and resources were used to make corrections to these cases.