III. MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
A. Background -- Inspection Processing at the Miami International Airport
Passengers arriving on international flights are inspected in Concourses B and E at Miami International Airport. The physical facilities are similar and inspection operations are basically the same on both concourses. After disembarking, passengers arrive in the primary inspection area where they form lines. There are separate lines for citizens and non-citizens (aliens), but each leads to an immigration inspector booth. When the passenger reaches the booth, the immigration inspector queries the computer system [ The computer system is a link between INS' Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) and the U.S. Customs Service's TECS II. Most arriving international passengers in Miami are on APIS flights. The inspector types the passenger's name and the system first checks the APIS lists and then, if the passenger is not listed in APIS, automatically checks the TECS II data base.] for law enforcement lookouts, examines the passenger's documents, and questions the passenger. If the inspector decides the passenger needs a more thorough inspection than can be provided in primary inspection, the passenger is referred to secondary inspection. An inspector in primary may send a passenger to secondary because the computer shows a law enforcement lookout, the passenger does not have a required visa, or other reasons such as the inspector's suspicion that the passenger's documents are fraudulent.
When a passenger is referred to secondary inspection, the primary inspector enters in the computer system the reason he or she believes a more thorough inspection is needed and the passenger is escorted to secondary inspection. Secondary inspection is divided into two separate areas, which are referred to as "soft" secondary and "hard" secondary. Arriving new immigrants and refugees are taken to soft secondary. [ Refugees are persons who are outside their country of nationality and who are unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. ] All other passengers referred to secondary inspection are taken to hard secondary.
The hard secondary area in each concourse consists of a lounge with one entry door, a counter area, several small offices/interview rooms, and holding cells (Concourse B has one holding cell; Concourse E has two). Although the lounge areas are not totally secure, the counter in each is near the entry door and there were one or more immigration inspectors at the counter each time we observed the area. Moreover, if a passenger bolts from the lounge, he or she will end up back in the primary inspection area.
Inspectors in hard secondary assigned as "expedite" officers perform a triage function. They review each passenger on a first-come, first-served basis by checking the computer for the reason the primary inspector has sent the passenger to secondary inspection, reviewing the documents, and conducting a preliminary interview to determine whether possible excludability applies. In most cases, the expedite officers find that the passengers are admissible and they process these passengers relatively quickly.
When the expedite officer believes the alien is excludable, the alien's travel documents are given to the secondary inspection supervisor. If the secondary inspection supervisor agrees the alien is excludable, a case is opened. The alien is assigned an Alien-number (A-number) and an A-file is opened. If the alien already has an A-number, a temporary A-file is opened.
When a case is opened, it will be processed immediately if an inspector is available. If no inspector is available, the passenger waits in the lounge. If the passenger has a criminal record, or is deemed to be dangerous or a flight risk, the passenger may be placed in a holding cell until the case can be worked.
After an inspector in secondary has worked the case, the passenger may be admitted to the United States, held until a law enforcement organization picks the passenger up (if he or she has an outstanding arrest warrant), placed on an airplane leaving the country (in the case of Visa Waiver Pilot Project passengers and passengers who withdraw their application for admission), or deferred for further processing by the Expedited Removal Unit (ERU) [ The ERU is a separate inspections unit located at a satellite location in the Miami Airport. It was created on April 1, 1997, to implement the provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by experienced inspectors. The ERU functions as a port court with the inspectors acting as prosecutors and an assistant port director acting as an immigration judge. ] , the Miami District Office, or another INS district.
For three days, June 18 through 20, 1997, 58,896 arriving passengers were inspected at primary inspection in the two concourses, and 57,968 were admitted to the United States following primary inspection. The computerized referral log showed that 229 arriving new immigrants and refugees were sent to soft secondary, and 699 passengers were sent to hard secondary.
Of the 699 arriving passengers sent to hard secondary, 652 were admitted to the United States, 7 were refused admission at hard secondary, and 40 were deferred for further processing (34 to the ERU and 6 to other INS districts).
Of the 699 passengers sent to hard secondary, 494 (71 percent) were cleared from secondary in less than 1 hour, and 686 (98 percent) were cleared in less than 6 hours (the Port Director at the Miami Airport has established 6 hours as the maximum time anyone should be in secondary). The remaining 13 (less than 2 percent) were held in secondary for over 6 hours, with 7 of them spending over 9 hours in secondary.
B. Gear Belts and Firearms
1. OIG Investigative Report Findings
Our special investigation substantiated allegations that inspectors at primary inspection were ordered to remove their gear belts in order to present a "kinder, gentler" image. The gear belts normally contain a holster for a firearm, ammunition pouches, and handcuffs inside a case. The investigation further found that:
There were no policies in INS' Administrative Manual on wearing of gear belts.
The normal practice in Miami at the time was that some inspectors wore gear belts with empty holsters at primary inspection. Those who wore them said they did so to enable them to get ready more quickly when they needed to carry a firearm (e.g., to escort a departing alien to a plane).
The normal practice in Miami was that inspectors at primary inspection did not carry firearms, but there was confusion and uncertainty as to the circumstances in which inspectors should carry weapons.
2. Results of Follow-up Review
Our follow up found that INS had issued the following policies on wearing leather gear belts and carrying firearms:
August 8, 1996, INS Firearms Policy, Administrative Manual Section 20.012.
August 19, 1996, memorandum from the Office of Programs entitled "Inspections Program Guidance on Uniform Leather Gear and Related Items."
December 3, 1996, memorandum from the Office of Programs entitled "Inspections Program Firearms Policy Issues and Procedures."
April 16, 1997, memorandum from the Deputy Commissioner entitled "REVISED Inspections Program Firearms Policy Issues and Procedures."
We found inspectors at the Miami International Airport to be in compliance with the policies for wearing gear belts and generally in compliance with the policies for carrying firearms. These policies prohibit all employees from wearing gear belts and carrying firearms at primary inspection. These policies permit Supervisory Immigration Inspectors to wear firearms, but only if authorized in writing by the District Director.
We found that the August 19, 1996, Office of Programs policy memorandum on gear belts was prominently posted on a bulletin board in the inspections area. During six days on-site at the Airport, we made numerous spot checks of the primary inspection area. We did not see any inspectors wearing gear belts while working in the primary inspection booths.
We also did not see any inspectors carrying firearms while working the primary inspection booths. Most, but not all, Supervisory Immigration Inspectors carried firearms, even though the District Director had not authorized this in writing as required by the April 16, 1997, revised firearms policy.
Miami District Office officials said that they had not seen the revised policy memorandum and were unaware of the requirement for written authorization by the District Director until we inquired about it. Subsequent to our pointing out the requirement, the Miami District Director prepared written authorization for supervisors to carry firearms.
C. Detention Policies and Logs
1. OIG Investigative Report Findings
Our special investigative report found that in order to present an appearance of calm and order during the Congressional visit, aliens other than criminals were taken out of cells and told to sit in the lobby of hard secondary. The investigation further found that:
There were no written criteria for the detention of aliens in hard secondary inspection at the Miami airport. Criminal aliens were held in cells. Aliens who were undocumented or presented fraudulent documents were sometimes held in cells and sometimes not: the practice varied among inspectors and also based on the workload and the number of aliens already in the cells.
There were discrepancies in the record-keeping systems; specifically, detention logs were poorly maintained.
2. Results of Follow-up Review
We found that INS Headquarters and Miami had issued several documents on these matters, but that there was still confusion over detention policies in hard secondary and detention logs still were not properly maintained.
The INS Review Team's July 26, 1996, Initial Report had also found that the Airport needed written policies for detention in hard secondary and recommended that the District issue interim policy until INS-wide policy was issued and that the District consider alternative methods of maintaining custody and control of aliens not held in cells.
The INS Review Team's Initial Report had also found that detention logs for holding cells were not complete and accurate and recommended that the Port Director issue a guidance memorandum emphasizing the importance of these logs.
We found that INS had issued several policy memoranda on the subject, including:
August 16, 1996, from the Office of Programs, entitled "Secondary Detention Procedures at Ports-of-Entry."
September 13, 1996, from the Acting Miami Port Director, entitled "Detention Procedures and Logs."
October 8, 1996, from the Assistant Port Director, entitled "Secondary Detention Procedures."
January 31, 1997, electronic message from the Associate Port Director, entitled "Detention Log."
Several memoranda on detention of juveniles, unaccompanied minors, and detention guidance for implementation of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
We were unable to find two documents that the INS Review Team's September 10, 1996, Interim Report stated had been issued. Personnel at INS Headquarters, the Miami District Office, and the Miami International Airport were unable to produce these documents, and we do not know whether the documents were actually issued. These documents were referred to in the Interim Report as:
"Local instructions based on the draft national policy were developed and issued by the Port Director on August 16" .
"A memorandum addressing standards and procedures for completion of the detention log was issued on July 24" .
a. Detention Policies
We found relatively few passengers detained in the holding cells. During our six days at the airport, the cells were usually empty. The holding cell logs for June 18 through 20, 1997, showed that a total of six passengers had been held in the cells of the two concourses. All six passengers were referred to the ERU for continued inspection. Five of these passengers had criminal records, were issued Notices to Appear before an Immigration Judge by the ERU, and were transferred to the Detention and Deportation Branch for removal processing. The other passenger was admitted to the United States after an extensive inspection could find no grounds to exclude him.
We reviewed the ERU log, the INS Central Index, and the DACS for information on the other 28 passengers who were referred from hard secondary to the ERU during the three-day period, but who had not been held in a cell. Information relating to criminal records was found for only two of these passengers. One passenger was listed in DACS as an aggravated felon and another passenger was listed on the ERU log as having a drug conviction. The aggravated felon was processed for expedited removal by the ERU and the other was issued a Notice to Appear before an Immigration Judge and transferred to Detention and Deportation for removal processing.
The limited use of the cells appears to be a change from the normal practice at the time of the Congressional visit, which was to place some aliens who were undocumented or presented fraudulent documents in cells. The Port Director explained the change by saying that the current District Director has a humanitarian detention policy. The decision of whether to place a passenger in a cell is made by inspectors and supervisory inspectors in secondary. Both the August 16, 1996, Office of Programs policy memorandum and the February 3, 1997, Associate Port Director's electronic message require that, when passengers are in cells, the cells be monitored every 15 to 30 minutes and that this be recorded on the cell log. It appeared that inspectors considered this requirement to be so onerous that they did not place someone in a cell unless they believed the person was dangerous or a flight risk.
We found confusion over the definition of detention and confusion as to when passengers should be recorded in the Detention Log. We believe that the discrepancies we noted in the Detention Log, which are discussed in the next section, are due largely to this confusion. We received the following definitions of detention:
Both the Miami Airport Director and the District Director stated that aliens are not officially "detained" until after inspections processing has been completed and a decision has been made to exclude the alien. Some aliens may be held in cells before the decision is made, and some aliens may be held overnight and then admitted to the United States. As defined by the Port Director and District Director, these persons would not be considered to be detained, and therefore not listed on the Detention Log.
The August 16, 1996, Office of Programs policy memorandum primarily discusses placing aliens in hold cells and generally uses "detained" to mean aliens confined in cells. This memorandum requires a detention log for "each detainee placed in a hold cell." However, another section of the memorandum states that the provisions in the memorandum apply to all detainees whether placed in a hold cell or not. One Headquarters Inspections Program Manager said that he thought the policies in this memorandum were limited to hold cells, a second Headquarters Inspections Program Manager said that the policies applied to everyone whether or not they were detained in cells, and a third Headquarters Inspections Program Manager said that the policies were intended to be general and the Ports were expected to administer the policies to meet their circumstances.
Some Miami Airport inspectors we interviewed believed that all passengers in the secondary inspection area were in detention. The passengers were escorted to a secure lounge and told they could not leave. This view is supported by a February 3, 1997, electronic message from the Assistant District Director for Inspections (ADD/I) discussing detention logs, which states that "as soon as we have made a decision that we are not letting someone enter the country/not leave our area they are effectively detained."
We reviewed the Computerized Secondary Logs, and three manual logs (Removal Logs, Detention Logs, and Detention Cell Logs) for three days -- June 18, 19, and 20, 1997. The Computerized Secondary Log is generated from the entries made by inspectors in primary inspection when they refer passengers to secondary and from the entries made by inspectors in secondary inspection when they enter the final disposition of a passenger. The manual logs are maintained separately in each of the two concourses.
Review of the Computerized Secondary Logs showed that, for passengers referred to secondary inspection from primary inspection, inspectors in secondary were entering the disposition in the system when they completed processing passengers. However, information on some passengers processed in secondary was not recorded in the computer system. The Tactical Deployment Force (TDF) [ TDF members are Senior Immigration Inspectors who perform law enforcement type duties, such as meeting some arriving criminals at airplanes (when they have advance notice through the APIS checks) and serving as rovers to make sure that arriving passengers do not exit the concourses without going through inspection.] sometimes picks up passengers at airplanes or finds aliens hiding in rest rooms or passageways before entering the primary inspection area, and takes them directly to hard secondary. As these passengers are taken directly to hard secondary, they bypass primary inspection and are not entered into the Computerized Secondary Log. Members of the TDF did not enter these passengers into the computer system because of a lack of computer terminals. The ADD/I said that he had ordered additional computer equipment for use by the TDF.
The Removal Logs, also called Case Logs, are used to record the assignment of an A-number and the establishment of an A-file when a case is opened, or to record the establishment of a temporary A-file in those instances in which aliens already have an A-number. The Removal Log in Concourse E was well maintained; however, the Removal Log for Concourse B did not contain entries for three A-numbers in that portion of the Log used for the assignment of new A-numbers. The numbers in this portion of the Log are sequential. For the three days reviewed, the log recorded the assignment of nine new A-numbers, but omitted three numbers in the sequence. We found a record for one of the numbers in the ERU and a record for another in INS' Central Index System showing that the numbers had been used. We were unable to determine whether the third number had been used and not entered into the log, or was inadvertently skipped and not used.
The Detention Logs are used to record persons detained and contain identifying data, the time in and time out, and whether the passenger was fed. The Detention Log for Concourse E contained names and associated information on nine aliens for the three days reviewed. However, it did not contain names and information on 16 other aliens who had been processed in secondary during the three days. For the 16 aliens, the Removal Log showed that a case had been opened and logs in the ERU showed that the alien had been transferred to that Unit for further processing. Also, the Detention Log for Concourse E did not contain the names of two aliens who the Detention Cell Log showed were held in the cells.
The Detention Cell Logs are used to record persons placed in the hold rooms (cells). The Detention Cell Log for Concourse E showed that only six individuals had been confined in the cells during the three days reviewed. For two of these individuals, the log did not show the time they were released from the Cell.
None of the above logs included a provision to record whether an alien was advised of the right to communicate with a consular official. The August 16, 1997, Office of Programs policy memorandum requires that detained aliens be notified that they may communicate by telephone with a consular or diplomatic officer of the country of their nationality in the United States and that this be recorded in a log.
We found that inspectors were generally consistent in placing criminals in hold cells. Although INS has issued policy, there is still confusion on when aliens are considered to be detained, when aliens other than criminals should be put into hold cells, and when they should be recorded on Detention Logs. We are troubled that the decision whether to hold non-criminal aliens in detention cells may be driven by the inclination of a particular District Director, or monitoring requirements considered to be so onerous that they drive the decision not to detain. Detention policy and practice as to non-criminal aliens should be driven solely by whether the specific alien constitutes a flight risk or a risk to the safety of others.
INS needs to record information on passengers detained in hold cells and other passengers held for extended times in the secondary lounge. Some of these individuals may be held in the lounge for a number of hours while the inspector working the case awaits information from an embassy or other sources. INS Headquarters needs to provide better guidance on what logs are needed for passengers held in lounges, and the Miami District Office needs to provide a space on the Detention Log to show whether aliens were advised of the right to communicate with a consular official.
A. OIG Investigative Report Findings
During the conduct of investigation there was a general INS failure to produce responsive and relevant documents to the OIG investigative team in a comprehensive and timely way at the INS Headquarters, Eastern Regional, and Miami District levels. The lack of cooperation was demonstrated by the recurrent failure to provide documents and in the possible destruction of electronic files. We also found a deplorable lack of cooperation in certain interviews with high-ranking INS officials.
Our report concluded that, in order to ensure prompt, complete, and diligent responses to future requests for information and evidence, strong signals should be sent by the Commissioner regarding INS cooperation with investigations.
B. Results of Follow-up Review
We found that INS had taken the following actions:
On June 21, 1996, the INS Commissioner sent a copy of the Executive Summary of the OIG Investigative Report to the INS management. [ The memorandum was addressed to Management Team, Regional Directors, District Directors (Foreign and Domestic), Chief Patrol Agents, Service Center Directors, Administrative Center Directors, and Asylum Office Directors.] The Executive Summary discusses the lack of cooperation and recommends that, in the future, INS top management should take strong administrative action against employees who do not cooperate fully.
On July 24, 1996, the INS Commissioner sent a memorandum to INS management reaffirming INS' commitment to accuracy and thoroughness in responding to investigative organizations' requests for information and evidence. Although the memorandum was addressed to management, the memorandum stated that the Commissioner wanted the substance of the message communicated through the chain of command to every INS employee.
Both the August 1996 and April 1997 editions of the INS Communique [ The INS Communique is published by the Headquarters Office of Public Affairs to inform INS employees about official and unofficial activities.] contained personal messages from the Commissioner discussing the OIG report. The April 1997 edition stated that even though the picture presented to the Congressional Task Force was seriously wrong, the deliberate obfuscation in determining the facts afterward was even more serious.
In conducting the follow-up review, we received excellent cooperation from INS employees at INS Headquarters, the Miami District Office, Krome, and the Airport both in the production of documents and in interviews.
In addition, as part of the follow-up review, we surveyed OIG staff about the level of cooperation they received from INS, focusing on the 1996 Miami investigation as the watershed, and asking about cooperation before and since the issuance of the report. The survey of OIG Special Counsels, Special Agents in Charge (SACs), Assistant SACs, Regional Audit Managers (RAMs), Assistant RAMs, Audit Team Leaders, Inspections Division Assistant Directors, and Inspections Team Leaders revealed that out of 30 responses, 24 respondents rated INS overall cooperation with the OIG since September 1, 1996, to have been good to excellent. For the same period, 25 of the 30 respondents rated INS responsiveness to requests for information and documents to be good to excellent. Also, 25 of the respondents said that INS overall cooperation and responsiveness had remained about the same or improved since September 1, 1996. Finally, 26 of the respondents concurred that as a general matter, INS has cooperated with OIG investigations, audits, and inspections as well as or better than other components in the Department.
Only four of the respondents rated INS overall cooperation and responsiveness as poor. Three respondents believed INS cooperation and responsiveness had declined significantly since September 1, 1996, and four believed cooperation by INS was worse than other components.
In addition to the steps affirmatively taken by INS management to ensure cooperation with OIG investigations, we believe that the discipline imposed on INS personnel for the misconduct identified in our original special investigative report will have a lasting impact on the cooperation provided by INS personnel. Only if significant punishments are ultimately imposed, particularly on those found to have engaged in substantive misconduct and on those who failed to cooperate with our investigation, will the important purposes of deterrence be served. The administrative process to determine such discipline is still ongoing.
Although progress has been made in the INS Miami District on some issues, some of the problems identified in the June 1996 investigation report continue to exist and require corrective action. We found that overcrowded conditions have eased and physical improvements have been made at the Krome facility. The INS is in the process of developing standard operating procedures for Krome in an effort to receive accreditation by the American Corrections Association. Improvements were also noted in the handling of juvenile detainees. Juvenile male detainees were no longer housed with the general adult male population. For the time period reviewed, detained juveniles were expeditiously processed and transferred to either Boystown or the Catholic Home within a few hours of their arrival at Krome.
However, in our judgment, measurable progress has not occurred at Krome in a number of areas. Male and female felons were still being housed with non-criminal male and female detainees. Dangerous, convicted felons were still being released from Krome into the community. In a number of files reviewed, sufficient evidence that a criminal history check had been performed prior to an alien's release was lacking. Although one duplicate record-keeping system was deleted, discrepancies between manual and automated records at Krome continue to be a problem.
Improvements noted at the Miami Airport included the issuance of policies regarding inspectors wearing gear belts and carrying weapons and inspectors' general compliance with the new policies. While we noted that criminal aliens were being held in cells while their cases were being processed, there continues to be some confusion over certain terms used in policy documents issued to establish criteria for the detention of aliens in holding cells. Also, poor maintenance of Detention Logs continues to be a problem.
We noted that, after the initial investigation, the Commissioner notified INS management of the importance of their cooperation with the OIG. We received excellent cooperation from INS employees during this follow-up review. Further, OIG managers we surveyed rated INS' overall cooperation since September 1996 as good to excellent.
The administrative process to determine the discipline, if any, to be imposed on the INS personnel found in our original special investigative report to have engaged in substantive misconduct is not yet complete.
Michael R. Bromwich
September 11, 1997