WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema partnered with key Chairs of the Senate Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees to call for oversight of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use of Critical Incident Teams along the Southwest Border to help ensure CBP can effectively secure the border and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely.
“According to CBP, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains teams with specialized evidence collection capabilities that collect and process evidence related to CBP enforcement activities and critical incidents,” the Chairs wrote. “We would like to better understand the roles and responsibilities of these Critical Incident Teams, including their authorities, activities, training, and oversight.”
As Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management—a subcommittee of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee—Sinema leads bipartisan efforts to ensure smart and effective border security, improve the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service, and safeguard Arizona taxpayers against government waste and inefficiency.
Sinema was joined on the letter by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-MI), House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Richard Durbin (D-IL), House Committee on Oversight & Reform Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Senate Judiciary Committee Immigration, Citizenship, & Border Safety Subcommittee Chair Alex Padilla (D-CA), House Homeland Security Committee Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations Subcommittee Chair Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA),House Judiciary Committee Immigration & Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and House Oversight & Reform Committee Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chair Jamie Raskin (D-MD).
A copy of the full the letter is here and below:
Dear Comptroller General Dodaro:
We write to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) use of Critical Incident Teams along the southwest border. According to CBP, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains teams with specialized evidence collection capabilities that collect and process evidence related to CBP enforcement activities and critical incidents. With respect to the investigation of serious incidents involving CBP personnel, we understand that members of these Critical Incident Teams are sometimes tasked with assisting CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
We would like to better understand the roles and responsibilities of these Critical Incident Teams, including their authorities, activities, training, and oversight. We therefore request that GAO conduct a review of the following issues:
- What are the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of CBP’s Critical Incident Teams, how and under what circumstances has CBP deployed these teams since 2010, and how have these teams and their responsibilities evolved during this time?
- Under what legal authorities do CBP’s Critical Incident Teams operate? Do they operate pursuant to authorities delegated by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility? If so, what are the terms of that delegation?
- To what extent has CBP developed policies and procedures regarding the activities of Critical Incident Teams?
- To what extent do members of CBP’s Critical Incident Teams receive specialized training?
- To what extent do Critical Incident Teams coordinate with other law enforcement agencies?
- To what extent has CBP developed and implemented mechanisms to oversee its Critical Incident Teams?
- How do other federal agencies collect and process evidence related to serious incidents involving agency personnel, and how does this compare to CBP’s use of Critical Incident Teams?
- How is the work of the Critical Incident Teams documented? If there are investigative reports for cases in which Critical Incident Teams become involved, how are such reports prepared, catalogued, and maintained?
- What is the annual operating budget for the various Critical Incident Teams, and how is such funding provided?
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.