The Government Accounting Office (GAO) declared in a report that despite our increased border patrols and border security, thousands still manage to slip into the United States. And that is a serious concern in the war on terrorism.
The GAO found that in 2006 Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) had successfully denied entry to the United States for 200,000 illegal aliens, but “several thousands” were still able to slip through the cracks. The GAO conducted inspections and noticed that CBP members routinely did not follow procedures when conducting inspections of would-be visitors. Procedures such as not verifying country of origin and assessing admissibility of each traveler were missed.
After the GAO pointed this out in 2006, they did a follow up inspection a few months later and noticed little improvement in procedures. By July of 2007, the CBP decided to issue more detailed procedures and directions for field office managers to disseminate amongst their workers. However, the GAO noticed that there was no internal control in ensuring that those procedures were actually being done.
The CBP deputy commissioner, Jayson Ahern, agreed that improvements needed to be made. “The point is that we need to actually do a better job”, he said. Ahern noted that 400 million people each year enter the United States through those checkpoints.
The CBP has honed up to its lack of follow-through, citing a shortage of staff as the cause of their mistakes. The CBP field office managers feel that officer attrition has led them to miscounting the number of staff at each of the 326 stations. Although they have designed a better training program and other programs to curb attrition, the GAO still doesn’t know how many CBP staff members will actually receive the training and for how long.
One congress member noted that we spend money on fences yet people are still coming in illegally. “As we continue to pump more resources into virtual and real fences between our ports of entry, we cannot afford to lose sight of other vulnerabilities at our borders,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement Monday.
GAO did have recommendations for improvements. One key improvement was that the CBP enhance its internal controls process. They recommended a system be designed where field office directors give agency management results of their internal assessments, this way the agency can analyze and make recommended changes. Also, the CBP should track and develop their training data for better measurement of training programs.
Government Accounting Office Reports, Associated Press