Acting ICE director Thomas Homan holds a press conference over the summer. The agency's mission is controversial enough that its executives need protection, officials have argued.

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan holds a press conference over the summer. The agency's mission is controversial enough that its executives need protection, officials have argued. Alex Brandon / AP

IG: Immigration and Border Agency Execs Used Security Details Without Legal Authority

Homeland Security agrees to review protection programs, but will not suspend them during the review.

A Homeland Security Department watchdog says that immigration and border enforcement agencies have been running protection details for executives without the legal authority to do so.

The DHS Office of the Inspector General issued a report Sept. 14, which was redacted and made public this week, making the case that Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement lacked the statutory authority to provide security details to agency leaders. But CBP has provided protection for its commissioner, and ICE for its director, since as early as 2014, without articulating specific or credible threats that made such efforts necessary.

According to CBP, the protection detail for its commissioner costs $700,000 per year in personnel costs, and the agency has incurred additional costs to acquire multiple SUVs to support the program. The DHS inspector general said those figures underestimate the price tag.

“We believe that both ICE and CBP do not capture the full costs of their protection details in their estimates,” the report said. “For example, according to the [Office of Management and Budget]-approved DHS cost model for calendar year 2016, the fully-burdened annual cost of a GS-13 (step 1) law enforcement agent in the D.C. area is about $275,000. Given . . . other costs not included, such as travel and vehicles, we believe the true annual cost of each detail could exceed $1 million.”

The inspector general office, which initiated its investigation following whistleblower complaints, said that Congress has through legislation given a number of federal law enforcement agencies the authority to provide protection details for their leadership, but that is not the case for ICE or CBP.

“In contrast to ICE and CBP, other law enforcement agencies rely on express statutory language for their authorizations,” the report said. “Given that Congress has clearly provided for security details for some positions and not others, we do not believe that these general provisions authorize permanent security details comprised of special agents and a fleet of vehicles for the leadership of ICE or CBP in the absence of a showing of specific, credible threats to these executives.”

The inspector general concluded that the agencies’ justifications for the extra security were based on a general idea that their missions are controversial, rather than threats to executives' lives.

“ICE executives explained that the existence of the detail is predicated not on any specific or credible threat to the director,” the inspector general wrote. “Rather, it is based on the general nature of the position coupled with ICE’s involvement in ‘hot button’ topics like immigration enforcement and removal.”

The agency watchdog argued that these security details may be counterproductive, making these executives more of a target by raising their public profile.

“In fact, we found the security detail has actually served to draw public attention to the previous ICE director,” the report said. “One field agent who worked on the ICE executive detail in Texas said in his view, ‘you could put [the director] in a photo line-up and show it to 100 people in downtown Dallas and maybe two might recognize her.’ A number of agents stated that this same previous ICE director was never recognized in public, but that the detail attracted attention.”

Some agents told investigators that they felt the protection details were more an issue of convenience for executives, rather than to ensure their safety. "Nights, weekends, we have to send agents out," one agent told OIG. "We’re just treated like we are expendable.”

Another agent said there was “absolutely no protection at times . . . then [she would require] rides to the airport.”

The report recommended that CBP and ICE discontinue their security details for agency leadership until a legal review of the programs can take place. While DHS agreed to conduct a review of the agencies’ security details, it declined to shut down the programs until the probe is complete.

“While the department will review further the CBP commissioner’s and ICE director’s security details, DHS believes that a reasonable basis exists to maintain the status quo during the review of these security details,” DHS said. “It is important to note that the very nature of both the CBP and ICE positions subject them to intense attention and hostility, and increases the likelihood that they may be the subjects of attack while performing their official duties at any number of events or publicly known government offices.”

The inspector general also recommended that if DHS’ review determines the agencies do have the legal authority for the security details, then the department should issue a directive on “the scope and circumstances under which a security detail” is allowed for its leaders, including reporting requirements on travel and costs.

Department officials said they will issue regulations governing how security details are approved by June 20, 2018, but the IG office said that effort is not sufficient.

“DHS has not articulated the reasons a fairly simple policy should take a year to issue, particularly given the fact that the department has been aware of the issue since at least November of 2016,” the report said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.