‘Shocking’: Lawmakers hear of border crisis’ impact on CBP, ICE morale

Lawmakers on a House Oversight subcommittee heard Tuesday how the ongoing crisis at the southern border has negatively impacted Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff, as they seek to tackle a migrant crisis now in its third year. The Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, the Border and Foreign Affairs held a hearing on a recent Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report which outlined low morale and overwork among ICE and CBP staff who had been deployed to the border as the migrant crisis exploded in 2021 and 2022. “Based on interviews and survey responses from 9,311 law enforcement personnel, the details and overtime have negatively impacted the health and morale of law enforcement personnel, who feel overworked and unable to perform their primary law enforcement duties,” said a committee report issued in May. It also found that 24% of those surveyed intended to leave within the next year. APPEALS COURT DENIES BIDEN ADMIN REQUEST FOR STAY IN CHALLENGE TO MIGRANT RELEASE POLICY  “Although CBP and ICE annually assess their staffing needs, neither has assessed how using details and overtime has affected the workforce and operations. Unless CBP and ICE assess and strategically change their current staffing management at the border, heavier workloads and low morale may lead to higher turnover and earlier retirements,” the report said. “This could worsen staffing challenges and degrade CBP and ICE’s capacity to perform their mission. The report found that agencies were not adequately addressing attrition and that details and overtime are unsustainable and contribute to low morale. The report also found that “unpredictability” surrounding immigration policies were also negatively affecting morale. The report recommended greater coordination between DHS, CBP and ICE heads to complete a full staffing assessment, as well as after-action reviews and greater communication. Subcommittee Chairman Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., said that “what [OIG] found is shocking.” “88 percent of ICE and CBP law enforcement personnel who responded said their work location was not adequately prepared and staffed during migrant surges, 71 percent of CBP personnel and 61 percent of ICE personnel stated that their current work location was not adequately prepared and staffed even during ‘normal’ operations,” he said. “But there is nothing ‘normal’ about the current border catastrophe.” Grothman put the blame for the ongoing crisis on the Biden administration, accusing President of Biden of having “signaled to the world through words and actions that our borders are open… and so, they were.”  NONPROFIT LAUNCHES TO RESTORE ICE IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT, COUNTER LEFT-WING ‘ABOLISH’ MOVEMENT Democrats on the committee focused their attention on DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, who testified before the committee — and took aim at the report itself. Ranking member Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., accused Cuffari of heading “flawed and misleading investigations” and accused his agency of “sweeping generalizations” and mathematical errors. “This report does a disservice to our law enforcement personnel and instead of working to actually identify and solve issues affecting morale, our attention now is forced to correct mistakes and correct a report that is deeply flawed,” Garcia said. The criticism echoes criticism made by DHS at the time of the report. In addition to highlighting efforts it has taken to boost morale among its agents and officers, DHS cited a low response rate to the survey and said the results were “generally misleading and not necessarily representative of the workforce issues that frontline law enforcement personnel may be experiencing along the [Southwest Border.]” The OIG had rejected that analysis and said that the survey supplements work reviewing documents, data and other interviews, and was designed to “provide frontline law enforcement personnel the opportunity to confidentially share their perspectives on the challenges they are facing.” AS BIDEN ADMIN TOUTS SHARP DROP IN NUMBERS POST-TITLE 42, LEGAL CHALLENGES LOOM At the hearing, Cuffari criticized a lack of responsiveness in general by DHS, while backing the work his employees were doing. “During my tenure we have published 51 reports and made 145 recommendations specifically aimed at improving DHS Southwest Border ops. I’m very proud of the quality and quantity of the work by more than 700 professional career DHS employees have produced under my leadership,” he said. “As I reported since the fall of 2021, DHS continues to delay and deny OIG access to information that DHS is required to provide it to us and that we need to do our jobs,” he said. “I remain hopeful DHS will improve their responsiveness to our request for information so that we can continue to provide Congress and the public robust, timely oversight like that being featured in the day’s hearing.”
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