Immigration and Customs Enforcement is missing opportunities to identify aliens who may have ties to terrorism, and those holes in the screening protocol put national security at risk, according to an OIG report.
The report found that the agency is not adequately implementing its KSTEP (Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol). KSTEP was established to streamline immigration procedures and to help law enforcement and intelligence agencies share information.
Out of the 142 files that were audited, 40 were found to be non-compliant with issues ranging from failing to run initial checks to a lack of documentation. Auditors also found that ICE Enforcement and Removal Officers do not have access to DHS classified networks, which means agents have to travel to gain information on known or suspected terrorists. Some local law enforcement agencies also refused to cooperate with ICE; between 2014 and 2017, more than 29,000 ICE detainers were not honored.
The inspector general’s report makes four recommendations, including expanding ICE’s Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol and ensuring all ERO offices have the necessary communications infrastructure. It also recommends assessing ICE’s allocation of resources and the number of officers needed, and defining clear oversight responsibilities within ERO.