DHS inspector general reveals new immigration probes

DHS inspector general reveals new immigration probes

A federal watchdog is currently reviewing how the administration is processing asylum seekers and whether undocumented parents were deported without their children, the Department of Homeland Security acting inspector general revealed Wednesday.

Acting IG John V. Kelly discussed three probes currently underway before a House Appropriations subcommittee, and described at least one as a result of a major report released in October that found the department was “not fully prepared” for the administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

The IG is following up that report with an audit of DHS computer systems for tracking undocumented immigrant children who were separated from their families.

“Our audit will determine whether the IT systems and processes DHS relied upon were adequate to carry out specific border security operations, including tracking separated families, prior to and following the implementation of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy,” Kelly said.

CBP Chief Carla Provost told a separate House committee last month that DHS systems did not have a searchable place to enter “separated members of families,” and as a result, officials “had to do manual searches.” Since then, the computer systems have been updated, Provost said.

The inspector general is looking into a longstanding question around family reunifications: Whether separated undocumented immigrant parents were deported without their children, and if so, how many.

The department said last summer that all parents scheduled for deportation were offered the opportunity to bring their children with them, but that some chose to instead leave the children in US custody.

The inspector general is also looking into whether Customs and Border Protection officials are “turning away those who present themselves for asylum at ports of entry” and whether asylum-seeking families are being separated.

The work included visits to multiple checkpoints along the Southern border, Kelly said. Investigators have interviewed “CBP officers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and asylum seekers.”

Kelly did not provide a timeline for when these three probes would be completed or released publicly.

His testimony came as DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified about the department’s immigration policies before a separate committee.