FederalHealthcareImmigration & BorderIssuesInspector General Report Highlights Overcrowding, ‘Prolonged Detention’ Problems at Border Facilities

The federal Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general conducted an investigation into detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley.
February 8, 2022
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A report by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security identified overcrowding concerns and “prolonged detention” issues, among other problems that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) addressed last summer.

Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari sent the report in a memorandum to Chris Magnus, the commissioner of CBP, on January 27.

“During our unannounced inspections of four Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley area in Texas in July 2021, all four facilities struggled with overcrowded holding rooms,” the report read.

The report even indicated that there was one facility that was so crowded there was not enough room for people to sit or lie down, though the other facilities had not been overcrowded to that degree.

Cuffari’s report included images that showed the facilities in question and some that depicted rooms full of people who were masked but not socially distanced from one another.

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The inspector general explained that facilities were taking other precautions, including screening by medical staff, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

“However, the high volume of apprehensions at the time of our site visit limited the effectiveness of these measures,” the report noted. “Medical contractor staff and Border Patrol officials said medical screening was not consistent.”

Persons testing positive for COVID-19 were still entering the facilities and the number of detainees exceeded a special one-third capacity restriction implemented at the beginning of the pandemic.

“There were cases of prolonged detention. Of the 3,610 detainees held in the Border Patrol facilities we visited, 270 (7 percent) were held longer than 72 hours,” the report described.

The report did not make any recommendations but instead reiterated ones submitted after a review in 2019 found similar problems.

“In Fiscal Year 2020, Congress mandated that we continue our unannounced inspections of CBP holding facilities; in our February 2020 inspection of the Laredo and San Antonio areas we determined that CBP facilities appeared to be operating in compliance with (National Standards on Transport, Escort, Detention, and Search),” the document stated.

The inspector general’s report also noted that other standards were met despite the problems with overcrowding and prolonged detention.

Opponents of President Biden have made a point to criticize conditions at facilities housing illegal aliens and unaccompanied minors after their arrests.

Comparisons have been made to the surge on the border during the Biden administration and the one in 2019, but as the inspector general’s report noted, there were hundreds of thousands of more apprehensions in Fiscal Year 2021 than in prior years.

CBP reported 1.66 million arrests by U.S. Border Patrol in Fiscal Year 2021, compared to 646,822 in 2020 and 1.1 million in 2019.

A copy of the inspector general’s report can be found below.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."