United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a memo Friday ending a controversial Border Patrol oversight crew charged with investigating incidents involving border enforcement personnel. Instead, investigations will probably be turned over to the Office of Professional Responsibility, a special division that, whereas nonetheless inside CBP, is particularly charged with company oversight. Similar places of work exist at different authorities companies, together with the Department of Justice.
The change comes after calls by advocates to finish the Border Patrol Critical Incident Teams (BPCIT) program, which is comprised of Border Patrol brokers charged with investigating accusations of misconduct by their fellow brokers or different incidents that lead to damage or fatality. Democratic members of Congress known as on the Government Accountability Office to research BPCIT. The House Committee of Oversight and Reform additionally launched an investigation in January.
Democrats on the Hill and immigrant advocates cheered the transfer on Friday, saying incidents, together with Border Patrol agent’s use of pressure which have prompted the deaths of immigrants of their custody, shouldn’t be investigated by its personal personnel.
“These teams have been investigating their own agents without official jurisdiction for decades and there have been numerous disturbing reports of BPCITs interfering with law enforcement investigations to shield CBP officers and agents,” Senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California, mentioned in an announcement. “Public safety depends on public trust and accountability. I will continue to monitor the disbanding of BPCITs to ensure that proper records are kept in order to get a full accounting of their actions.”
BPCITs started forming in an ad-hoc style on the U.S.-Mexico border in 1987, first in San Diego, although their official names can fluctuate relying on the border sector, in response to the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), a community of organizations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, which accuses the BPCITs of protecting up crimes allegedly dedicated by Border Patrol brokers. SBCC has been advocating for an investigation and an finish to BPCITs, together with by sending letters to Congress and partnering with the members of the family of immigrants who died, allegedly by use of pressure by Border Patrol brokers.
According to the CBP memo issued Friday, OPR will lead investigations starting Oct. 1. “OPR will assume full responsibility for the critical incident response function utilizing its own assigned personnel,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus wrote within the memo. “To ensure our Agency achieves the highest levels of accountability, OPR will be the CBP entity responsible for responding to critical incidents and ensuring all reviews and investigations are conducted by personnel with appropriate expertise, training, and oversight.”
CBP didn’t instantly reply to TIME’s request for remark.
Advocates are additionally calling for elevated transparency within the transition course of. “This is an implicit acknowledgement that these units have no place in investigations,” Andrea Guerrero, govt director of Alliance San Diego, an immigrant advocacy group, mentioned in an announcement. “To move forward, we need an honest accounting of what has happened so that it never happens again.”
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