Border Patrol union: CBP report is flawed, inaccurate

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By Tatiana Sanchez

Leaders of the national Border Patrol union on Wednesday challenged the findings of a scathing report issued this week by a law enforcement task force that found U.S. Customs and Border Protection has done little to combat widespread corruption and lack of accountability within the agency.

Leaders of the national Border Patrol union on Wednesday challenged the findings of a scathing report issued this week by a law enforcement task force that found U.S. Customs and Border Protection has done little to combat widespread corruption and lack of accountability within the agency.

The 58-page report, released Tuesday by the CBP Integrity Advisory Panel, made 39 recommendations, many of them calling on the agency to move quicker and more effectively to review allegations of misconduct and corruption and to discipline rogue employees. It also warned that continued failure to aggressively investigate internal corruption, “leaves CBP vulnerable to a corruption scandal that could potentially threaten the security of our nation.”

Members of the National Border Patrol Council, however, were critical of their own agency, saying the report is part of an effort by the Obama administration to cast blame elsewhere for its failed border policy, to “demoralize Border Patrol agents” and to “dismantle immigration enforcement.”

“This is just a cheap shot to silence critics within the agency, specifically within the union. It makes it easier for (the administration) to dismantle immigration enforcement if they don’t have critics within the agency speaking against what’s going on,” said Shawn Moran, vice president and national spokesman for the council.

“We believe at this point the Border Patrol is at a crossroads, and we’re either going to have an effective border policy or the Border Patrol is going to be turned into a political arm of the administration. We seem to have no one in Washington to stand up and say this isn’t right.”

A spokesman with Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday the agency couldn’t comment on the union’s specific statements, but added that CBP is “committed to continually earning the public trust through integrity, accountability and transparency.”

A subcommittee of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, the CBP Integrity Advisory Panel is led by New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton and former Drug Enforcement Administration chief Karen Tandy.

It was assembled by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in December 2014, following concerns that significant hiring within CBP in the last decade has led to internal corruption and to the employment of some individuals who weren’t fit for the country’s largest law enforcement agency. These concerns persist today.

Moran said the Border Patrol union also opposed the mass hiring because it put the agency at risk. Many agents were put to work without proper training, he said.

“Agents were put in the field for a year and a half before ever having a background check completed. That was something that we were against since the very beginning,” he said. “It became so bad that it was referred to as ‘no trainee left behind.’ You were almost unable to fail the academy.”

The report also emphasized the agency’s need to significantly bolster the number of internal affairs investigators. In an interim report published last year, the panel recommended that the number of internal affairs investigators increase by about 300, to meet a total of 550 full-time investigators. CBP’s 2017 budget calls for only 30 additional investigators.

The panel acknowledged the agency’s efforts to temporarily transfer 57 agents to the Office of Internal Affairs from other agencies within DHS as a way to fill the gap, though it pushed for more aggressive action. It also acknowledged other efforts to fulfill recommendations issued in the interim report.

In an addendum, Homeland Security’s Advisory Council refuted many of the report’s findings.

The report was released on the same day DHS’ Office of Inspector General announced it would begin periodic, unannounced inspections of CBP and immigration detention facilities. The first inspections took place Tuesday.

“The OIG is initiating this inspection program in response to concerns raised by immigrant rights groups and complaints to the DHS OIG Hotline regarding conditions for aliens in CBP and ICE custody,” the agency said in a statement. “The unannounced spot inspections are designed to monitor DHS compliance with official government health, safety, and detention standards, and to examine conditions for minors at those facilities where minors are present.”

An OIG spokeswoman declined to name the first round of facilities that were inspected. She also did not provide details on the nature of the complaints received.

Article Source: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/mar/16/cbp-border-patrol-report-response/

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