Policy Letter

An Oversight Roadmap for Customs and Border Protection

October 12, 2021

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Ranking Member James Comer
House Committee on Oversight and Reform
2410 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Maloney and Ranking Member Comer:

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 offer a roadmap for oversight of America’s largest law enforcement agency.

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’s 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’s 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 become unacceptable to every CBP leader, officer, and agent among the many who 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 look forward to working with you on all of the concerns we outline in the attached document, “An Oversight Agenda for Customs and Border Protection: America’s Largest, Least Accountable Law Enforcement Agency.”


Sarah Turberville
The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight