WASHINGTON – On Thursday, June 29, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) detailed the findings of its unannounced inspections of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding facilities in the Yuma and Tucson areas, specifically five U.S. Border Patrol facilities and two Office of Field Operations (OFO) ports of entry (POE).
Border Patrol’s management of migrant property was found to be inconsistent across the Yuma and Tucson areas. Contrary to CBP operating procedures, some property retained by Border Patrol while migrants were in custody did not accompany migrants when they were released or transferred.
“The findings that CBP is mishandling and mistreating sensitive belongings and documents are consistent with reports from migrants and local stakeholders that have been alerting us to this issue for months now. It’s unacceptable,” said Rep. Grijalva. “We need additional action from the Biden administration to ensure uniform practices and humane treatment of migrants and their belongings. I look forward to the forthcoming GAO report we requested to better understand the current procedures in place and the scope of the problem across the different sectors. In the meantime, we will continue to call upon CBP to address any current inconsistencies in how they handle migrant’s personal property.”
In August 2022, Rep. Grijalva 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. In November 2022, Rep. Grijalva announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) accepted a request to review CBP activities, policies, and procedures regarding the handling of personal property belonging to individuals in its custody. The request came as a follow-up to two letters that Rep. Grijalva sent on this pressing issue.