Alleged Deception of Congress: The Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform's
Fact-finding Visit to the Miami District of INS in June, 1995

I. Background to the OIG Investigation

This investigation was launched in response to a letter to the Attorney General, dated July 12, 1995, from seven members of the Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform (Delegation or Task Force). These members forwarded to the Department of Justice a complaint by approximately 47 District of Miami employees of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). These employees alleged, in a complaint sent by the officers of Local 1458 of the American Federation of Government Employees (Union) to Representative Elton Gallegly, Chairman of the Task Force, the other members of the Task Force, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, that INS management had deceived the Task Force during a fact-finding tour of immigration facilities in Miami on June 10, 1995. The Complaint is attached hereto as Appendix 1.

In the Complaint, the employees essentially alleged that, during the two-day period immediately preceding the Delegation's visit, INS management took various steps at Krome Service Processing Center (Krome) and Miami International Airport (Miami Airport) to present the Miami District as well-managed and efficiently run, which did not comport with reality.

With regard to Krome, the employees specifically claimed that INS management sought to prevent the Delegation from perceiving that the detention facility was understaffed and overcrowded. INS management was alleged to have increased staffing levels and moved a total of 149 illegal aliens (almost 40 percent of the total detained population) out of Krome in the two days preceding the Delegation's visit. The employees alleged that some aliens were temporarily sent to other INS detention facilities and local jails, some bused to Key West and Tampa for lunch and returned to Krome, and others released to the community en masse despite their criminal records and lack of medical clearance.

With regard to Miami Airport, the employees claimed that INS management sought to create the false impression that the primary and secondary inspection of potential entrants into the United States at the airport was being conducted in a calm, orderly, and efficient manner. Specifically, the employees alleged that, in connection with the Delegation's visit to the Miami Airport, INS management increased the level of staffing of inspectors through the improper use of overtime funding. They further contended that INS management directed that aliens be moved out of holding cells into an unsecured waiting room in the "hard secondary"area, where potentially excludable (including criminal) aliens are processed. The employees also asserted that INS managers ordered inspectors to remove their gear belts, which contain holsters, handcuffs, and ammunition. The Complaint added that INS management failed to give sufficient advance notice about, and excluded the Union from participa ting in, the Delegation's visit.

In addition to the allegations contained in the Complaint, on July 21, 1995, an Immigration Inspector claimed that staff in the Miami District Office of INS began shredding documents soon after the news media reported that the Department had launched an investigation into the allegations contained in the Complaint.

Moreover, during the course of this investigation, several immigration employees expressed a fear of reprisals for complaints lodged against INS management officials.

When the allegations were made public, the Miami District Office was asked to respond. The District did so in the form of two memoranda dated July 13, 1995 (July 13 Memorandum) and July 17, 1995 (July 17 Memorandum), in which it denied that INS managers intended or acted to create a false impression for the Delegation. The July 13 and July 17 Memoranda are attached as Appendix 2 and Appendix 3, respectively. In the July 13 Memorandum, Miami's District Director, Walter D. (Dan) Cadman, wrote: "I can assure you, unambiguously, that the congressional delegation was not shown a 'Potemkin Village' [ On July 14, 1995, the Miami Herald printed an article entitled "An INS Potemkin Village?" which reported that "rank-and-file workers allege that their bosses . . . turned INS operations [in Miami] into an impressive 'Potemkin Village.' That Russian invention consisted of buildings' facades, with nothing behind them, rigged to deceive Western visitors about horrid conditions in th e Soviet Union." ("An INS Potemkin Village?," Miami Herald dated July 14, 1995, p. 20A).] when they visited any of the sites in this district -- whether at Miami International Airport or at Krome Service Processing Center." The substance of the Miami District's response is described in detail in this report in our discussion of each allegation.

A.Background to the Task Force Visit to Miami

1.The Creation and Mission of the Task Force

Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich created the Task Force at the beginning of the 104th session of Congress and charged it with developing recommendations to end illegal entry into the United States and to expel illegal aliens who had already entered. Speaker Gingrich directed the Task Force to report back to Congress by June 30, 1995. As part of its work, certain members of the Task Force traveled on fact-finding missions to San Diego, New York, and Miami "to enhance the expertise of the panel and obtain a first-hand view of the [immigration] problem."

2.Preparation for the Visits to New York and Miami

To plan its fact-finding trips, the Task Force advised the Offices of Congressional and Public Affairs at INS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., about its interest in certain immigration issues and identified those geographic locations that it wished to visit. In particular, Richard Mereu, a member of Representative Gallegly's staff, advised Pamela Barry, the Director of Congressional Affairs at INS Headquarters, that the Task Force was interested in such topics as political asylum, inspections of arriving travelers, treatment of criminal aliens, and Cuban and Haitian refugees. Virtually all of Mereu's contacts with INS were with Barry. Mereu described to Barry the general topics the Task Force wished to cover in its fact-finding mission, and left the details to INS. In addition, the Task Force chose the places and dates for its visits, and advised Barry that the Delegation wanted to see the border, as well as other areas, including New York and Miami.

In consultation with Mereu, Barry prepared a draft itinerary, including a visit to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York on Friday, June 9, 1995, and the Miami Airport and Krome in Miami on Saturday, June 10, 1995. This itinerary is attached hereto as Appendix 4. Barry coordinated with a representative of the United States Air Force, which provided the Delegation with transportation, and decided upon the times of arrival at and departure from the Miami INS facilities. The itinerary was revised several times and was ultimately approved by the Task Force. Despite revisions, the itineraries all provided for tours of Krome and Miami Airport, as well as briefings by District of Miami managers and other interested parties, including, among others, representatives of the Dade County Aviation Department (DCAD) and the Uniform Public Health Service (PHS). Thefinal itinerary is attached as Appendix 5. In connection with the Task Force's visits to New York and Miami, INS Headquarters prepared a briefing book for distribution to the Delegation (INS Briefing Book), which contained various fact sheets relating to the facilities to be visited.

On May 19, 1995, Miami District Director Walter Cadman met with INS Commissioner Doris Meissner at INS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss the upcoming Congressional visit. In that meeting, Commissioner Meissner stressed to Cadman the extreme importance of the Task Force's visit, and advised him, in substance, that "it would take very little to put the kiss of death on [the Task Force's] views towards INS, with significant adverse consequences for some time thereafter . . . " [ Cadman testified that the phrase "kiss of death " was his, not that of Commissioner Meissner.] (May 22 Cadman E-Mail). Upon his return to Miami on May 22, 1995, Cadman memorialized his conversation in an electronic mail communication that he sent to some of his program managers, as well as to INS Eastern Regional Director Carol Chasse. The full text of the May 22 Cadman E-mail is reproduced below and is attached as Appendix 6.

Undisplayed Graphic

On May 23, 1995, Chasse responded to the May 22 Cadman E-Mail. The full text of her response is shown below and is attached as Appendix 7. In addition to her e-mail message to Cadman, Chasse had a telephone conversation with Cadman in which she voiced concern that "there might be some people at the journeyman level, perhaps Union members, who would be a little unbalanced in their presentation if they had the opportunity to do so." In addition, Chasse expressedconcern that "there might be comparisons with JFK International Airport that might cause questions that were difficult to answer. . . ." It was clear to Cadman that in responding to questions or making presentations, Chasse did not want anyone to volunteer negative comparisons to staffing levels at JFK.

Undisplayed Graphic Soon thereafter, on May 25, 1995, Barry made an advance trip to Miami to prepare for the Delegation's visit. As part of that visit, Barry had a planning meeting at the Airport with Miami District, Airport and Dade County Aviation Department [ Dade County Aviation Department oversees and manages the Miami Airport facilities.] representatives. During the course of this meeting, Barry directed that "no one should discuss [Miami Airport's] staffing problems with the [Delegation]." Barry also instructed that "it was 'inappropriate' to make comparisons with Miami Airport and the JFK airport as there were other variables that made such comparisons unfair."

During her visit, Barry also visited Krome. While there, she expressed concern that two of the local Florida Congressional representatives, Hon. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Hon. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, might participate in the Delegation's visit and "encourage some sort of demonstration at Krome by the local Cuban community . . . ." (E-Mail from Kathy Weiss to Cadman, et al., dated May 25, 1995 at 4:20 p.m. re: "Visit of Pam Barry to Krome," Appendix 8). Barry's concern was shared by Cadman and Miami Deputy District Director Valerie M. Blake.

On June 2, 1995, Commissioner Meissner conducted a telephone conference with Chasse, Cadman, Barry, and others to discuss the upcoming visit by the Delegation. During the teleconference, Meissner stated that she wanted to see the INS "putting its best foot forward," but told the participants that she did not want a distortion of its normal operations. It was understood, however, by Eastern Regional Director Chasse that INS did not want to show its warts and boils, but rather wanted to make a favorable impression on the Delegation and show that Krome and Miami Airport were well-managed.

As of the day before the Delegation's visit, Krome was severely overcrowded, having reached a population of in excess of 400 aliens. Many of those aliens were Cubans who were being detained pursuant to a policy change imposed by INS Headquarters on May 2, 1995. In addition, Krome was housing approximately twice the number of women that it was capable of housing indoors. As a result, about 55 women were sleeping on cots in the lobby area of Krome’s medical clinic run by PHS. On June 8, 1995, Dr. Ada Rivera sent a memorandum to Miami District management warning of the serious health consequences of the overcrowded conditions and advising that she intended to suspend the medical clinic's normal functions.

During its preparations, the Miami District never formally notified the Union about the visit. However, on June 9, 1995, the Union's President, Adjudications Officer Michael Wixted, asked Cadman if the Union could make a presentation during, or at least be present for, the visit. Cadman denied the request.

B.The Task Force Visit to Miami

On June 10, 1995, a Delegation including seven of the fifty-four members of the Task Force [ The seven members were Reps. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Karen Thurman (D-FL), Mark Foley (R-FL), Carlos Moorhead (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Gary Condit (D-CA), and Andrea Seastrand (R-CA). The seven members were also accompanied by five Congressional staff members: Cordia Strom, Ed Grant, Richard Mereu, Jim Maiella, and Carolyn Hall. The Delegation was accompanied by four Air Force escorts and an Air Force doctor.] traveled to Miami, where they toured Miami Airport and Krome. From INS Headquarters, Commissioner Doris Meissner, Pam Barry, and Public Affairs Specialist Carole Florman accompanied the Task Force during its tour. From the INS Eastern Regional Office, Chasse participated in the visit.

Just before the Delegation arrived, Union President Wixted and Shop Steward Michael Boze were observed by Deputy Port Director Jerry Emory at the Miami Airport putting up signs in the employee break room that said, "Don't Lie to Congress," "Whitewash for Congress," and "Tell the Congress the Truth!" Miami Deputy District Director Valerie M. Blake attempted to speak with Wixted, but he declined to speak with her.

In accordance with its itinerary, on Saturday, June 10, 1995, the Delegation arrived at Miami Airport at approximately 1:15 p.m. Dade County Aviation Department personnel escorted the Delegation to Terminal E, which is the primary international arrivals area at Miami Airport. Upon her arrival with the Delegation, Chasse saw Wixted outside the soft secondary area where a short briefing was scheduled to begin. The soft secondary area is normally used to screen and process aliens entering the United States with immigrant visas. After speaking to Wixted, Chasse decided to allow him to accompany the Delegation during its tour and brought Wixted and Boze into the briefing. At the briefing, various INS officials made presentations to the Delegation about the primary and secondary inspection of potential entrants, immigrant visa and arrival procedures, and security issues. Those officials included Commissioner Meissner; District Director Cadman; Miami's Assistant District Director for Inspections, Aris Kellner; and Miami Airport Port Director Roger Miller. No written record or taped recording was made of the presentations.

After the briefing in soft secondary, the Delegation moved into Terminal E's primary inspection area, where passengers first present themselves to anImmigration Inspector for entry into the United States. Terminal E's primary inspection area contains 36 inspection booths, where lines of passengers form. As the Delegation walked through the primary inspection area, they spoke to various inspectors who were working on the primary lines.

At the time that the Delegation toured the primary inspection area, approximately 29 of the 36 inspection booths were staffed by Immigration Inspectors. In addition, because only about one-eighth of the room was filled with passengers, there were no long lines.

After moving through the primary inspection area, the Delegation entered hard secondary, where aliens suspected of attempting to enter the United States illegally are sent for further review. In that area, the Delegation was able to view the two holding cells used to temporarily detain certain aliens. By the time the Delegation reached hard secondary, there were only two criminal aliens detained in the holding cells. At least four aliens who had presented fraudulent documents to obtain admission to the country were then sitting in the hard secondary waiting area. A member of the Delegation asked one of the supervisors what types of aliens are detained in the holding cells. The supervisor responded that only criminal aliens are held in the cells, an answer which he knew to be false.

After the Delegation completed its tour of hard secondary, they were taken to Terminal B, which also operates as a processing point for international passengers entering the United States. Because it was behind schedule, the Delegation walked quickly through Terminal B and moved on to a media availability. Following this meeting with reporters, the Delegation attended a closed briefing regarding enforcement and interdiction procedures.

Prior to the commencement of the closed briefing, Cadman advised Wixted and Boze they would not be permitted to attend that presentation and stated that he would have them arrested if necessary. Wixted and Boze left.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., the Delegation left Miami Airport and was driven to Krome, where they arrived at about 5 p.m., one-half hour behind schedule. At Krome, the Delegation was briefed in the covered outdoor visitation area by Kathy Weiss, Krome's Camp Administrator; Dr. Ada Rivera, Chief Medical Officer for Krome from PHS; and Dick Walker, Miami's Deputy Assistant District Director for Investigations. The Delegation was then taken on a quick tour of thefacility. By the time the Delegation arrived, Krome's population had been reduced by almost 40 percent from the previous day to about 286 aliens. Many Cubans and female aliens had been released to the community.

C.The Task Force Report

On June 29, 1995, the Task Force issued its report to Speaker Gingrich (Task Force Report). The Task Force Report recommended measures that would increase inspections staff and decrease inspections workloads, as well as steps that would increase the available detention space and reduce the time for the removal of alien detainees. Specifically, the Task Force recommended that: (1) the number of inspectors be increased and visa application funds be used to fund such positions; (2) pre-inspection at foreign airports be expanded; (3) INS detention space be increased to 9,000 beds; and (4) various steps be taken to streamline exclusion and deportation procedures.

With the exception of a one-page description in an appendix regarding the fact-finding trip to the Miami District, there was no mention of that trip in the Task Force Report. Nor did the Task Force Report appear to contain any information obtained as a result of that trip, favorable or otherwise. [ Additional one-page descriptions were included in the appendix to the Report regarding each of the other fact-finding missions to New York and San Diego. With the exception of a single reference to the low rate of subsequent appearance by aliens granted deferred inspection at JFK, there was similarly no other reference to those fact-finding trips.]

D.The Complaint to Congress

In a meeting of the INS local employees' Union on June 14, 1995 concerning the Task Force's visit to the Miami District, the issue of an alleged deception was raised. Immigration Inspectors Kerry Kauffman, Doug Pierce, and George Nadeau were charged with the task of drafting a letter outlining the specific complaints the INS employees wished to make. According to Nadeau, the three were selected to write the Complaint because of their writing skills. According to Nadeau, the information contained in the letter combined his own personal knowledge with information learned from other Miami District employees. Michael Wixted, the Union President, claimed that he did not assist in drafting the Complaint because he believed that his personal animosity toward Cadman would have interfered with communicating the concerns of the Union members.

On June 27, 1995, the President and three other officers of the Union sent the Complaint to Chairman Gallegly, the members of the Task Force, and Speaker Gingrich alleging that, during the Delegation's visit, INS management "purposefully and actively deceived the delegation" about working conditions and the magnitude of the problem of illegal immigration in Miami. The letter was signed by approximately 47 INS employees from the District of Miami. [ The identifiable employees who signed the Gallegly letter held various non-supervisory positions and were assigned to Miami Airport.] In the Complaint, the employees asserted that INS management intentionally misrepresented conditions both at Miami Airport and Krome. The employees also criticized allegedly routine practices at Krome concerning the release of aliens into the community. OIG requested copies of any and all documents on which the Complaint was based. The Union was unable to provide any such material. [ Ac cording to Wixted, the information contained in the Complaint relating to alien movements at Krome was obtained from a list given to Immigration Inspector Kerry Kauffman by an unknown source at Krome. Wixted told OIG that the list had been accidentally destroyed and could not be reproduced.]

The Union members knew that the Task Force was intended to submit its report to Speaker Gingrich before June 30, 1995. Accordingly, once the Complaint was drafted, it was hand-carried and shown to INS employees (both Union members and non-Union members) at Miami Airport and Krome to obtain their signatures in support of the letter. Forty-seven employees ultimately signed the Complaint, all of whom were non-supervisory employees working within the Miami District. Forty-two of those employees were assigned to Miami Airport. [ Five of the signatures were illegible, and OIG's efforts to learn the identity of those five signatories through interviews were unsuccessful.] Of those, the majority (30) testified that they read the letter before they signed it. Thirty-nine of the Miami Airport employees stated that they had no personal knowledge of the events that had occurred at Krome. One employee stated that she signed the letter without actually reading or knowing the full content s of it and did so out of support for the Union.

On July 12, 1995, Task Force Chairman Elton Gallegly sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno formally requesting that the Department conduct a full and thorough investigation to determine whether, and to what extent, the Task Force was misled and deceived during its visit to Miami. On that date, the letter requesting this investigation was also provided to the press. The next day, articlesappeared in the Miami Herald and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reporting on the INS employees' allegations. On July 14, 1995, the Attorney General requested that the Office of the Inspector General conduct an investigation into the allegations.

E.The Allegations

1.The Allegations Concerning Krome

In the Complaint, the employees claimed that INS management sought to give the Delegation a misleading picture about the extent to which Krome was understaffed and overcrowded. Specifically, the employees alleged that, during the two-day period immediately preceding the Delegation's visit, INS management:

a)assigned additional Detention Enforcement Officers to Krome from Orlando and Tampa; and

b)moved a total of 149 illegal aliens out of Krome by:

1)temporarily sending large numbers of alien detainees to other INS detention facilities and local jails;

2)temporarily busing alien detainees to Key West and Tampa for lunch and returning them to Krome; and

3)releasing large numbers of alien detainees into the community despite their use of fraudulent documents or destruction of travel documents.

2.The Allegations Concerning Miami Airport

The employees also claimed in the Complaint that INS management sought to create the false impression at Miami Airport that the primary and secondary inspection of potential entrants into the United States was being conducted in a calm, orderly, and efficient manner. Specifically, the employees alleged that, in connection with the Delegation's visit to Miami Airport, INS management:

a)increased the level of staffing of inspectors through theimproper use of overtime funding;

b)directed that aliens be moved out of holding cells into an unsecured waiting room in the "Hard Secondary" area, where potentially excludable aliens are processed;

c)ordered inspectors to remove their gear belts which contain holsters, handcuffs, and ammunition; and

d)failed to give sufficient advance notice about, and excluded the Union from, participating in the Delegation's visit.

3.The Allegations Concerning Obstruction

In addition to the allegations contained in the Complaint, an Immigration Inspector claimed on July 21, 1995, that staff in the Miami District Office of INS began shredding documents soon after the news media reported that the Department had launched an investigation into the allegations contained in the Complaint. In addition, during the course of this investigation several immigration employees expressed a fear of reprisals for complaints lodged against INS management officials.

4.OIG Concerns About Obstruction During the OIG Investigation

During the course of this investigation, OIG became increasingly concerned that we were not receiving full cooperation from INS. From the beginning, senior management officials in the Miami District appeared to dismiss the allegations and not take them seriously simply because they had been made by Union officials who were known to be hostile to management. This view colored the INS' response to the allegations and this investigation. Information provided to OIG in explanation of the events that had transpired prior to the Delegation's visit proved to be incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading. Key evidence contained in electronic mail files of various INS managers was, at best, not properly preserved and produced or, at worst, intentionally deleted. As the OIG investigation began to establish culpability by senior-level INS managers, cooperation substantially diminished and OIG was forced to administratively compel interviews and the production of keydocuments and records. A full discussion of OIG's concerns regarding the INS failure to cooperate during this investigation is contained in the last section of this report.

F.The INS Response to the Allegations

On July 12, 1995, Miami District Director Cadman issued a press release stating that "We are deeply disturbed by the allegations made in the [Complaint]. We have every reason to believe that the tour of the Congressional task force was completely straightforward and factual. Our objective for the Congressional tour was to be as candid as possible about our needs; anything else would have been contrary to the bests [sic] interests of the INS or of our District." The July 12, 1995, press release is attached hereto as Appendix 9. At the outset of the investigation, District Director Cadman assured OIG that the District would fully cooperate in the investigation. On July 17, Cadman sent an electronic mail message to the District managers stating, "I have assured [OIG] of our fullest cooperation in any and every possible way. Please make available to [OIG] yourselves, and any staff or documents requested/required."

On July 12, 1995, INS Headquarters also issued a press release which stated:

It is a fundamental policy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to be forthright and factual in its dealings with Congress. INS Commissioner Doris Meissner is deeply concerned over allegations contained in the July 12 Congressional Task Force on Immigration

Reform letter. She will work closely with Attorney General Reno to determine the facts and circumstances of matters raised in the letter and report back to Congress expeditiously.

(INS Statement in Response to Allegations Contained In Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform Letter dated July 12, 1995).

After the release was issued and to further respond to media inquiries, on

July 12, 1995, Gregory M. Gagne, a Public Affairs Specialist at INS Headquarters, asked Stella Jarina, Special Assistant for the Office of Field Operations at INS Headquarters, for a "line by line" response to the allegations. Jarina advised that Andrea Quarantillo was working on it. Quarantillo was the Director of the Services Branch at INS Headquarters who was Acting Executive Associate Commissioner for Field Operations at INS Headquarters (in the absence of William Slattery, the Executive Associate Commissioner for Field Operations). Quarantillo contacted the Eastern Regional Office and asked either Regional Director Carol Chasse or Deputy Regional Director Michael Devine to obtain the required information from the District.

On or about July 13, 1995, Quarantillo received a memorandum from Miami District Director Cadman setting forth his office's response to the allegations (July 13 Memorandum). Finding a problem with Cadman's responses relating to the parole and transfer of aliens from Krome, Quarantillo contacted the Eastern Regional Office and requested that either Chasse or Devine obtain a more detailed response from the Miami District regarding the transfer of alien detainees from Krome. On or about July 17, 1995, Quarantillo received a supplementary memorandum on that subject from District Director Cadman (July 17 Memorandum). Still finding the District's justifications for the detainee transfers "troubling," Quarantillo asked Kenneth Elwood, Associate Commissioner for Enforcement Operations at INS Headquarters, to obtain additional information. Quarantillo's notations regarding the "troubling" issues are attached as Appendix 10.

To address Quarantillo's concerns, Elwood relied on his own professional knowledge of deportation and information that he believes he obtained from Detention and Deportation Officer Steve Munroe, who was responsible for coordinating alien transfers from Krome at the Eastern Regional Office in Burlington, Vermont. Elwood concluded that Cadman's responses to the allegationsin the July 13 and July 17 Memoranda were satisfactory. After hearing from Elwood, Quarantillo advised Gagne that she was satisfied that the allegations were unfounded. See Appendix 10.

In the July 13 and July 17 Memoranda, Cadman did not deny that large numbers of aliens had been transferred and released from Krome on June 9, 1995, and June 10, 1995. However, Cadman essentially represented that all the alien movements were normal in light of Krome's overcrowded condition. With regard to the Miami Airport, Cadman also acknowledged that some additional inspectional and supervisory staff had been assigned to work in connection with the Delegation's visit, but claimed that they were brought in as escorts for the Task Force. In general, the Memoranda denied that INS managers had intentionally presented a false impression to the Delegation.