Chair Maloney and Chair Thompson Statements on Customs and Border Protection Disbanding Teams That May Have Obstructed Investigations
Washington, D.C. (May 6, 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, released the following statements after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they are disbanding 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.
“I am grateful that after we launched an investigation into reports that rogue units within Customs and Border Protection have interfered with law enforcement investigations, Commissioner Magnus has now directed CBP to disband these units,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “Today’s announcement is a clear acknowledgment that these unregulated and unsupervised Critical Incident Teams are more of a liability than an asset to the mission of protecting our borders and upholding the rule of law. I remain committed to ensuring transparency and accountability of this rogue program and to getting answers as to whether these teams protected agents from being held accountable for potentially serious misconduct.”
“I welcome CBP’s decision to disband Border Patrol Critical Incident Teams in the wake of our announced investigation into reports that these teams may have obstructed law enforcement investigations and prevented agent accountability. While this is a positive step, it remains critical that CBP provide Congress with a full accounting of these teams’ authorities and actions, including any potential misconduct,” said Chairman Thompson. “Today’s announcement enforces the importance of robust oversight of and transparency within law enforcement agencies, and I look forward to hearing more from CBP as they disband the teams and transfer necessary functions to the Office of Professional Responsibility.”
On January 24, 2022, Chairs Maloney and Thompson sent a letter to CBP requesting documents and information related to Critical Incident Teams. The letter explained that the Committees, “are investigating whether teams within the U.S. Border Patrol have interfered with criminal, civil, or administrative investigations of the use of force by Border Patrol agents to protect these agents from being held accountable for potentially serious misconduct.” Nine days later, DHS announced “interim” guidance restricting the operations of these teams and initiating a multi-office review of critical incident responses.
Also on January 24, Chairs of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting it conduct a review of CBP’s use of Critical Incident Teams.
The Oversight Committee has also led the charge in investigating racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments relating to immigrants and Members of Congress made by employees of CBP in ‘secret’ Facebook groups. On October 25, 2021, the Oversight 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.