The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog found that officials at the besieged southern border routinely failed to accurately capture the addresses of tens of thousands of migrants it had released into the United States — known at least 177,000 migrants were released after providing an invalid or illegitimate address, or not providing one at all, to Border Patrol agents.
The DHS Office of Inspector General issued an audit finding that the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement do not and do not routinely record the post-release addresses of migrants before they are released.
Addresses are taken to track and locate migrants once they are released into the US, to send them documentation to determine which field offices can check in with them. The addresses are also used to locate those subject to deportation orders. The watchdog examined 981,671 migrant records between March 2021 and August 2022, marking the first and a half years of the ongoing migrant crisis. They found that more than 177,000 records were missing, invalid, or illegitimate. Notably, more than 54,000 address records were left blank.
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“The USBP has not been able to accurately and effectively capture valid addresses, in part because of the large number of migrants apprehended, as well as its limited coordination with ICE and its limited authority to manage compliance with address requirements . and analyzing the migrants’ post-release addresses,” the IG found.
During the period monitored, the Border Patrol released more than 430,000 migrants with a notice to appear (NTA) in court, 95,000 under prosecutorial discretion, and more than 318,000 under humanitarian parole. On average, the agency releases more than 60,000 migrants per month, it said.
The agency found 97,000 apartment addresses without a unit number, and 780 addresses were used more than 20 times. Seven addresses have been recorded more than 500 times, some of which are federal agencies or charities, which can be detected by the Border Patrol but serve as temporary residences. ICE also found an individual used by 100 migrants as a point of contact.
“The staggering percentage of missing, invalid, or duplicate addresses on file means that DHS may not be able to locate migrants after their release to the United States. Meanwhile the Department continues to arrest and release tens of thousands of migrants every month, valid post- Release addresses are important,” the report said.
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The watchdog found that the sectors with the largest number of migrants had the largest number of errors, with the IG highlighting previous interviews that suggested that the greater flow of migrants led agents to focus on the speed rather than the volume of data entry. It also highlighted limited coordination between the Border Patrol and ICE, and limited authority to verify addresses.
As for migrants who are required to check in with ICE, the watchdog found that in a sample of 25,000, 52% of those with a dash input because the address did not check in as required. Overall, the percentage of migrants who failed to check in was 28%.
The agency recommends an action plan to coordinate requirements and processes, an ICE policy to validate addresses, an analysis of migrant data to identify trends and an evaluation -weighing of the recourses for those who manage the addresses.
But DHS pushed back, disagreed with any of the recommendations and criticized the report. The agency noted that challenges in verifying addresses have been an issue for decades.
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A DHS official highlighted several steps the agency has taken to improve tracking, including a new unified immigration portal, an online change of address form launched in April and a special docket for invalid addresses. They also highlighted the funding that was obtained which led to more processing officers being hired and more agents being employed.
“Our immigration system is broken and outdated and Congress needs to fix it. Even under outdated laws, the Department is improving how it processes and vets noncitizens. Individuals who intending to come to the United States are vetted by DHS and our intelligence and counterterrorism partners to prevent anyone who poses a threat from entering the country,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The IG ignored the legal and operational constraints that made it impossible for the Department to implement its recommendations,” they said. “The report also does not include many recent improvements at DHS in how we track and update non-citizen addresses across agencies.”
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The report comes as migrant numbers increase. Fox News Digital reported this week how the Border Patrol has set bookout targets to deal with the influx of migrants at the border. CBP sources told Fox News that as of Monday, the Border Patrol had arrested more than 7,300 illegal immigrants and now has more than 22,000 migrants in custody, the sources said.