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US watchdog reveals grim details on length of migrants’ detentions — Analysis

DHS inspectors reported that illegal border-crossers were sometimes held for ten times more time than allowed by rules

The largest US Border Patrol detention facility held almost 90% of illegal border-crossers for far longer – some up to ten times longer – than allowed under current government policy, the Department of Homeland Security said in a report published this week. 

Unannounced, the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), visited seven El Paso facilities. It found that the Border Patrol treated migrants with respect, however, they kept them in detention for longer than 72 hours.

OIG inspectors visited seven Border Patrol facilities in October 2021 – at the start of the federal fiscal year – to verify compliance with the standard on Transport, Escort, Detention and Search (TEDS) protocols. This requires that immigrants are deported and processed within three days from the time they were captured. “as appropriate and operationally feasible.”

Inspection and further analysis “found that Border Patrol held 493 migrants in custody longer than specified in the TEDS standards, which generally limit detention in these facilities to 72 hours,”According to the OIG report. 

“Despite prolonged detention times, none of the facilities we inspected was overcrowded,” The report stated that Border Patrol was responsible for taking care of the situation. “consistent measures” To provide “access to medical care, showers, a change of clothing, blankets and mats, and food and snacks.”




The report zeroed in on the El Paso CPC, a facility built in 2019 in response to “kids in cages” reports critical of the Trump administration’s handling of illegal migration. At the time of the OIG visit, there were 569 migrants detained at the facility – of which 493, or 87%, had been there for longer than 72 hours. Of those, 23 had been detained for 30 days or longer – ten times the TEDS limit.

Inspectors are also located “inconsistent implementation of standards related to segregating juveniles from unrelated adults or legal guardians and providing interpretation to detained individuals.”

Many people were detained beyond three days because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which was short of pilots, forced them to cancel three scheduled flights to Ecuador from October 19 through October 29. Instead of being deported, the OIG issued notices for migrants to appear before immigration courts and were released into the US.

More than 2 million were recorded by Customs and Border Patrol “encounters”The southern US border was closed between June 2022 and October 2021. Because some of the encounters are duplicates – migrants who were sent back but try to cross again – the OIG report lists the actual number of individuals who crossed the border illegally in that time period as 1,634, including 104 as of June. Total number of illegal crossings for the fiscal year 2021 were 1,659,000.

The number of illegal crossings on the US-Mexico border surged following Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2020, with the new president vowing to reform the immigration and asylum process to be more “humane” and “equitable.” On Monday, the Biden administration discontinued its predecessor’s policy of sending asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, making over 5,000 migrants eligible to cross into the US and stay until their claims are adjudicated – a process that can take several years.

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