New Report: DHS Technology Systems Do Not Effectively Support Migrant Tracking at the Southwest Border

News from the Department of Homeland Security OIG
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DHS Office of Inspector General - Newly Released Report

September 13, 2022               Office of Public Affairs:

DHS Technology Systems Do Not Effectively Support Migrant Tracking at the Southwest Border

DHS’ IT systems did not effectively allow CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel to track migrants from apprehension to release or transfer. To overcome technology limitations, DHS personnel and partner agencies at the border implemented manual and ad hoc workarounds to process migrants apprehended illegally entering the United States. Technology limitations occurred because DHS components and partner agencies fund and maintain their own IT systems. However, DHS had several improvement efforts underway during the time of this audit to facilitate information sharing.

DHS personnel also faced challenges when data was not consistently documented in DHS’ systems of record. For example, migrant apprehension times were not recorded in a consistent manner, and we identified missing migrant data that prevented DHS from determining family status. Also, CBP did not always document a migrant’s intended U.S. address before releasing the individual into the United States using prosecutorial discretion to await immigration proceedings. According to ICE, CBP only recorded addresses 65 percent of the time between March and June 2021. We also noted that approximately 30 percent of migrants did not comply with release terms to report to ICE within 60 days between March and September 2021.

These deficiencies can delay uniting children with families and sponsors and cause migrants to remain in DHS custody beyond legal time limits. Also, without accurate data, such as family status, DHS is less likely to ensure family members remain together and at appropriate facilities. DHS should continue its efforts to improve IT capabilities to track migrants and share information. This is critical to ensure that DHS can process the high number of migrants illegally crossing the Southwest Border — which exceeded 1.6 million in FY 2021.

Read Report No. OIG-22-66