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Policy Letter

An Oversight Roadmap for Customs and Border Protection

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

The nation’s attention is properly focused on the actions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) following widespread dissemination of images of CBP agents on horseback abusing Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas. This incident cannot, however, be viewed in isolation. Instead, it should be properly understood as a distillation of the long-standing problems with CBP that demand robust, persistent oversight by Congress. We write to share with you the roadmap for Congressional oversight of CBP that we have offered to Congress.

We propose a “bottom-up,” good governance approach to reforms, identifying six discrete needs for oversight which have in common a focus on changing CBP culture:

  • Reforming recruitment and training
  • Changing CBP’s culture of stonewalling
  • Improving management of complaints and discipline
  • Conducting a review of efforts to improve CBP integrity
  • Reevaluating CBP’s jurisdiction
  • Reinvestigating flawed agency responses to excessive uses of force and custodial deaths

We steer clear of border-policy debates by focusing on increased professionalism and transparency, as well as improved processes for addressing misconduct. These oversight topics address a culture of impunity that must be — or at least must become — unacceptable to every CBP leader, officer, and agent among the many who do serve honorably.

We thank you for your leadership on this issue and on so many others critical to ensuring our government is accountable and protects constitutional rights. We welcome your questions and working with you on reform of CBP.

Sincerely,

Sarah Turberville

Director

The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight