DHS' Fragmented Approach to Immigration Enforcement and Poor Planning Resulted in Extended Migrant Detention During the 2019 Surge [open pdf - 7MB]
From the Highlights: "A key issue preventing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from transferring detainees out of its facilities within 72 hours was insufficient Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations' (ICE ERO) bed space. ICE ERO also could not increase capacity quickly enough to keep pace with CBP's apprehensions, and available bed space was not always appropriate for the aliens in need of placement. As a result, CBP's Border Patrol faced rapidly increasing numbers of detainees -- especially single adults -- who remained in CBP's holding facilities intended for short-term custody. Despite worsening conditions, Border Patrol generally did not exercise its authority to release single adults from its custody. Border Patrol sectors created ad-hoc solutions to manage the growing detainee populations in its facilities, because their local response plans did not adequately account for ICE ERO's detention limitations. Furthermore, longstanding fragmentation in immigration enforcement operations between CBP and ICE ERO further exacerbated these challenges. DHS was aware of a potential land migration surge and the challenges it would pose. DHS had both a multicomponent task force in place at the border and a plan for land migration surges, but used neither during the 2019 surge. In May 2019, DHS created a headquarters coordination group to advise leadership and help manage future emergencies, like a migrant surge. However, if the Department does not develop a DHS-wide framework for surges and address day-to-day fragmentation, CBP and ICE ERO will face the same challenges in future surges."
Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Report No. OIG-21-29
Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security: https://www.oig.dhs.gov/