TUCSON, Ariz. – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) issued a statement following the release of a joint letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a review of 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.
“CBP has failed in its responsibility to handle the personal property of migrants and asylum seekers. These reports are serious, and the mishandling and mistreatment of sensitive personal belongings and documents by CBP agents demand additional oversight,” said Rep. Grijalva. “CBP must not be allowed to skirt its responsibility to treat asylum seekers with respect and be held to higher standard. As written under CBP policy, detained individuals and asylum seekers
should have their personal belongings safeguarded, itemized, documented, and accessible. This GAO report request is one of many additional steps that we will take to hold CBP accountable.”
The GAO report request is a follow-up to two letters that Rep. Grijalva has 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.
The GAO report request letter was signed by 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.