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Oversight and Homeland Security Chairs Request Information from Customs and Border Protection on Potential Misconduct of Specialized Teams

Washington, D.C. (January 24, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), requesting documents and information related to Critical Incident Teams—specialized units within CBP tasked with investigating and collecting evidence of allegations of excessive and deadly use of force by Border Patrol agents. 

“The Committees are concerned by reports indicating that Critical Incident Teams may have obstructed appropriate investigations by law enforcement,” wrote the Chairs.  “Our Committees are seeking to more fully understand the role of Critical Incident Teams following potential misconduct by Border Patrol agents, whether these teams have obstructed criminal, civil, or administrative investigations or prevented accountability for agents’ misconduct, and the steps CBP is taking to ensure these teams are being used appropriately.”

Congress has not provided CBP specific authority to conduct investigations of its agents’ misconduct, and the CBP Commissioner has not publicly delegated this authority to Border Patrol.  

Despite the apparent lack of authority to investigate agent misconduct, the CBP appears to have created Critical Incident Teams to investigate and collect evidence following incidents that may create criminal or civil liability, including allegations of excessive use of force. 

The Chairs expressed grave concern about the lack of transparency of Critical Incident Teams.  These teams are not mentioned in the most recent version of CBP’s Use of Force Administrative Guidelines and Procedures Handbook.  The Chairs are also concerned that Critical Incident Teams may have obstructed appropriate investigations by law enforcement. 

Today’s letter follows the Oversight Committee’s investigation into racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments relating to immigrants and Members of Congress made by employees of CBP in ‘secret’ Facebook groups.

On January 11, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney sent a letter urging CBP to fully comply with a Committee subpoena for documents and information related to dozens of CBP employees who participated in these ‘secret’ Facebook groups.

On October 25, 2021, the Committee released a staff report showing that most CBP employees who participated in these groups had their discipline significantly reduced and continue to work with migrants.

The Chairs requested documents by February 7, 2022. 

Click here to read today’s letter.

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