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Juvenile Repatriation Practices at Border
Patrol Sectors on the Southwest Border

Report Number I-2001-010
September 2001



This report is the second report produced by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Evaluation and Inspections Division, regarding unaccompanied juveniles in Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) custody. Our first report, Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody, issued in September 2001, covered juveniles, usually other than Mexican, detained by the INS for over 72 hours and placed into formal immigration proceedings. These juveniles are housed in licensed INS-contracted shelters or secure detention facilities. Our report evaluated the juvenile detention policies and procedures used by the INS Juvenile Affairs Division.

The INS Juvenile Affairs Division establishes requirements for appropriate treatment of certain unaccompanied juveniles. The program addresses juveniles that have been apprehended, will be detained by the INS for more than 72 hours, and will be placed into formal immigration hearings. The INS Juvenile Affairs Division is managed from INS headquarters, through the regions, and to the districts. In FY 2000, the Border Patrol apprehended 2,073 unaccompanied juveniles who were placed into the INS Juvenile Affairs Division.

In this, our second report, we reviewed how promptly the Border Patrol repatriates unaccompanied Mexican juveniles to Mexico, a process that usually does not involve the Juvenile Affairs Division. In FY 2000, the Border Patrol apprehended 94,823 accompanied and unaccompanied Mexican juveniles who it subsequently repatriated to Mexico. These juveniles were not entered into formal immigration proceedings and were not expected to be in custody for more than a few hours.

There are 9 Border Patrol sectors consisting of 72 stations along the Southwest Border. During March, April, and May 2001, these sectors apprehended 31,360 juveniles. This total included 29,714 Mexican juveniles, the overwhelming majority of whom were voluntarily returned to Mexico.

Scope and Methodology

We visited nine Border Patrol stations between Sunday, July 15, and Tuesday, July 17, 2001. We had indications that the El Centro Border Patrol Sector was experiencing problems with the juvenile repatriation process. Therefore, most of our work focused on the El Centro Border Patrol Sector and two of its stations in El Centro and Calexico, California. At the Sector headquarters, we interviewed the Border Patrol Sector Chief Patrol Agent, assistant chief patrol agents, and supervisory Border Patrol agents. At the two stations, we interviewed the patrol agents-in-charge, supervisory Border Patrol agents, Border Patrol agents, one detention enforcement officer, and the one unaccompanied Mexican juvenile in custody. We interviewed the officer-in-charge and deputy at the El Centro Service Processing Center (SPC) adjacent to the El Centro Border Patrol Sector headquarters. We interviewed the Deputy Regional Director, the Deputy Assistant Regional Director of Detention and Removal, and the Deputy Assistant Regional Director of the Border Patrol at the Western Region Office in Laguna Niguel, California. At the San Diego District Office in San Diego, California, we also interviewed the Acting Deputy District Director, the Assistant District Director for Detention and Removal, and the District Juvenile Coordinator.

In addition, we reviewed apprehension and release documents related to unaccompanied Mexican juveniles from March 1 to May 31, 2001. The principal document reviewed was the Unaccompanied Mexican Juvenile Manifest (manifest). The manifest lists the Mexican juveniles transported to the Mexican Consulate and, afterwards, to the Mexican border for repatriation. The names of up to 12 juveniles may be entered on one manifest. The manifest shows the juvenile's name, date of birth, place of birth, father's name, mother's name, place of arrest, and date of arrest. At the bottom left of the manifest is a place for the INS custodial officer's signature and date. On the bottom right of the manifest is a place for the Mexican official's signature, date, time of interview, and stamp. The manifest is the only form that documents the release of the unaccompanied Mexican juveniles.

We also reviewed data on apprehended unaccompanied juveniles from March 1 to May 31, 2001, in the ENFORCE 1 database. This included the INS form I-213, Record of Deportable/ Inadmissible Alien. The form I-213 is produced from data entered into the INS ENFORCE system. The form contains information on apprehended juveniles, including the name, age, time and place of apprehension, nationality, name and relationship of any accompanying adults (if accompanied), and the juveniles' immigration status (voluntary return or other).

Sector Station
San Diego, CA El Cajon, CA
Yuma, AZ Yuma, AZ
Tucson, AZ Ajo, AZ
El Paso, TX Santa Teresa, NM
McAllen, TX Kingsville, TX
McAllen, TX McAllen, TX
McAllen, TX Rio Grande City, TX

OIG investigators conducted 1-day unannounced visits at seven Border Patrol stations (listed in the accompanying table) on Sunday, July 15, 2001. The OIG investigators were stationed at or near many of the Border Patrol locations we visited. They interviewed Border Patrol supervisors, Border Patrol agents, detention enforcement officers, and six juveniles in custody. They examined 178 unaccompanied Mexican juvenile apprehension, detention, and repatriation records from July 10-14, 2001.

Our report is organized into three sections: (1) Findings at the El Centro Border Patrol Sector, (2) Results of the 1-day unannounced visits at the seven additional Border Patrol locations, and (3) Recommendations.

  1. ENFORCE is a system that documents the investigation, identification, apprehension, detention, and/or removal of immigration law violators.