In November 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. OIG personnel inspected two facilities of Border Patrol’s El Paso sector and one CBP Office of Field Operations port of entry. On September 15th, 2023, OIG published a 40-page report of its findings.
The visits took place at a time of heavy migration to the El Paso sector. At the time of the inspection, Border Patrol had 1,903 people in custody at its El Paso processing center (M-CPC). Inspectors interviewed a random sample of 10 percent of those being held.
The inspection broadly revealed that the Border Patrol facilities met Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search (TEDS) standards to provide basic amenities including drinking water, meals, access to toilets, hygienic supplies, and bedding.
However, CBP was out of compliance with detention time requirements, as well as the provision of regularly scheduled meals and showers. More than half of those surveyed were held in CBP custody for more than the 72 hours required in non-emergency circumstances.
TEDS standards require facilities to provide showers to juveniles at most every 48 hours and to adults at most every 72 hours while in CBP custody. While detainees were provided with showers during intake, they were not provided with showers every 48 or 72 hours thereafter. Detainees were also not given hygienic materials like toothpaste and toothbrushes. According to a CBP official, the facility faced limited shower capacity, insufficient staffing, and overcrowding that prevented officers from providing these required showers and supplies.
The inspection also revealed data integrity issues in Border Patrol’s electronic records system, E3. During an inspection of a sample of twenty custody logs, OIG found gaps in entries of when meals, blankets, and hygiene items were provided. When attempting to locate a detainee for interviews, CBP officials were unable to locate the person due to E3 discrepancies.
In a February 2023 follow-up visit, at a time when the El Paso sector was receiving far fewer migrants, OIG inspected the facility once again and considered all of its recommendations resolved.
—“Results of Unannounced Inspections of CBP Holding Facilities in the El Paso Area” (Washington: DHS Office of Inspector-General, September 15, 2023) https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2023-09/OIG-23-50-Sep23.pdf.