VII. Conclusions and Recommendations Regarding Needed Systemic Reforms
Our purpose in conducting this investigation was not explicitly to identify systemic issues that should be addressed in INS. Rather, we were asked to investigate the very specific allegations contained in the Complaint and determine whether the facts supported them. In undertaking this effort, however, we encountered issues that warrant systemic treatment. Some of the issues have already been addressed implicitly in the section of the report dealing with administrative sanctions against certain employees. These include taking steps to guard against deception of Congress when it visits facilities on fact-finding missions; responding accurately to allegations of misconduct that are made; taking allegations seriously and not discounting them simply because of their source; andundertaking to cooperate fully with investigations that examine allegations of employee misconduct.
The fact that the management decisions at issue in this investigation -- from misleading Congress to obstructing legitimate fact-gathering efforts -- pervaded the INS Regional and Miami District rank suggests serious and systemic management failings. And, indeed, as Miami is one of the most important INS District Offices, INS Headquarters should be particularly concerned about the management problems highlighted by this matter. Clearly the Eastern Region and Miami District leadership should be changed and strong signals sent that the conduct demonstrated by managers in this matter will not be tolerated.
One major management failure is the relationship between labor and management in the Miami District. During our investigation, numerous high-level INS officials dismissed the allegations simply because they had been made by the Union. Our confirmation of many of the Union's allegations thus conflicts with the perception of many INS managers that because the Union had made the allegations they must be untrue. Addressing the strained relationship that permits these attitudes to take hold and fester should be a high priority.
Moreover, our investigation discovered grave discrepancies in the INS record-keeping systems at Krome and the Miami Airport. We found that paper records kept manually did not comport with computerized files purporting to memorialize the same information. Particularly as to alien movements, these discrepancies pose serious problems. Some aliens simply could not be accounted for in Krome's records -- a fact that must be remedied. Our audit staff has discussed these discrepancies with Miami District managers, but a follow-up check should be made to ensure that appropriate remedies are being implemented and are adequately addressing the problems. Moreover, spot checks should be undertaken to ensure that the same problems do not exist in other INS district offices.
In addition, written policies should be formulated for the handling of aliens in hard secondary at the Airport. At present, unwritten custom or practice calls for detention in certain circumstances. On the day of the Congressional visit, the normal procedures were abandoned so that the Delegation would not see as many people -- including children -- in cells. Given the INS managers' apparent discomfort at the Delegation's seeing children in cells, and in light of the evidence ofchildren being detained in the same facility with adult criminal aliens, we recommend that some alternatives be developed for the handling of alien children and family units. Moreover, the absence of a written policy has the potential to create confusion and to contribute to inconsistent treatment of aliens depending on the Airport where they should happen to land.
Other policies and regulations should also be clarified and guidance provided as to their application. In particular, our investigation uncovered instances in which aliens were released who had not received appropriate medical clearances. INS should re-examine its policies relating to the release of aliens to determine whether changes need to be made in those policies to ensure that no aliens are released into the community prior to being medically cleared. If those policies are deemed adequate, additional training should be provided and additional documentation required to ensure that releases of the types discovered in our investigation are not repeated. The same holds true for the release of aliens with criminal records.
We also found confusion and uncertainty as to the circumstances in which Immigration Inspectors should carry weapons. We learned that INS practice is inconsistent on this issue and there is confusion among top-level managers as to existing INS policy on what circumstances permit or require Immigration Inspectors to carry weapons. Because the personal safety of INS inspectors, aliens, and the general public is directly implicated by this policy, it should be carefully considered by top INS managers and then adequately communicated to the field.
Finally, strong signals should be sent by the Commissioner regarding INS cooperation with OIG investigations. INS top management from the Commissioner on down must take responsibility for ensuring the prompt, complete, and diligent responses to requests for information and evidence. In the future, INS top management should take stronger steps to ensure that INS employees rigorously and honestly search their paper files and computer systems, and cooperate fully with fact-gathering efforts. INS should take strong administrative action against those who do not.
From the point in the investigation when senior INS managers at the District and Regional levels refused to be interviewed voluntarily, we have coordinated our investigative efforts with the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section. We have transmitted a copy of our report to that Section for further evaluation. Irrespective of whether any official is prosecuted criminally for actions in connection with this matter, we urge that administrative sanctions be considered and that systemic reforms be implemented.
Michael R. Bromwich
Maxine S. Pfeffer
Special Investigative Counsel
June 14, 1996