WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) accepted a request to review U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) activities, policies, and procedures regarding the handling of personal property belonging to individuals in its custody. There have been numerous reports of CBP agents confiscating and discarding migrants’ personal documents such as passports, birth certificates, and other confidential documents necessary for asylum cases and religious property.
“We’re going to hold CBP’s accountable for their actions,” said Rep. Grijalva. “Mishandling and mistreating sensitive belongings and documents, including those that may impact the outcome of an asylum claim, must stop. Oversight is urgently needed. I look forward to working with GAO as they carefully review and provide insight as to CBP’s handling of personal property.”
The acceptance letter can be found here.
The GAO report was requested by Rep. Grijalva, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitations and Operation, and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). The full GAO report request letter can be found here.
The request came as a follow-up to two letters that Rep. Grijalva sent on this pressing issue. In August 2022, he led 22 members of Congress in a letter to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tae D. Johnson regarding reported instances of CBP agents confiscating and discarding migrants’ personal property, including religious property such as Sikh turbans. This letter has yet to receive a response from CBP or ICE. Additionally, Rep. Grijalva co-led a follow-up letter demanding accountability after continued reports of turban confiscations.