F. Allegations that reports of locations of alien apprehensions are being falsified
In an article in the August 14, 1996, North County Times, unidentified agents were quoted as saying that agents at Brown Field were ordered to falsify information regarding where aliens had been apprehended. The alleged purpose of this fabrication was to make it appear that aliens had been apprehended further east than was actually the case.
One of the primary goals of Operation Gatekeeper was to shift illegal traffic from Imperial Beach and the other stations west of Otay Mountain to locations east of the mountain. The theory behind this goal was that many aliens attempt entry at Imperial Beach and Chula Vista because of the favorable terrain at those locations. After crossing the border at these points, aliens also enjoy easy access to good transportation systems, and they easily blend into these communities. These areas are also close to I-5, which is the most direct route to Los Angeles, the primary destination for illegal traffic. In contrast, the terrain of Otay Mountain and areas further east is extremely inhospitable, and transportation routes north are distant. Weather conditions in these areas also constitute a significant deterrent.
A decrease in apprehensions at Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and an increase in apprehensions in the East County would demonstrate that the deterrence-oriented deployment in the western stations was successful. To demonstrate this fraudulently would require falsifying apprehension records at Imperial Beach and Chula Vista to indicate that persons actually apprehended in the west were apprehended at locations further east.89
No witness told us that aliens apprehended in western stations were reported as being apprehended in eastern stations. Although we received claims of falsified apprehension location data, these claims were generally limited to alterations within the confines of station boundaries. These alterations, if they occurred, would not affect the public's perception of illegal traffic movement because none of the publicly released figures presented a station's apprehension statistics by zone. The smallest breakdown of apprehension figures we found reported outside the Sector was by station. Although such alterations would not have any impact outside the Sector, the OIG nonetheless reviewed these claims because of the serious allegation that supervisors were intentionally falsifying official station reports.
With the advent of Gatekeeper, supervisors sought to track alien movements much more closely so that agents would be most effectively deployed. Tracking where aliens crossed the border, and where they were apprehended, was essential to fine-tuning these deployment decisions. Documents obtained from the various stations show that when particular weaknesses were found in the deployment, new positions were created to address these weaknesses. The supervisors and station management monitored alien traffic reports from each shift and made adjustments based on the information provided. As they became more sophisticated at this process, the zones were realigned, additional zones were created, and the system was made more precise so that changes could be tracked even more closely. For example, the I-826/I-827 forms were modified at several stations to include a line for apprehending agents to record the alien's place of entry and place of apprehension. The IDENT system was also reconfigured to accept this information.
The complaints we received on this point alleged that supervisors had ordered agents to record incorrect station zones when apprehending aliens. Brown Field - where we received five such complaints - was the station most often cited. One set of complainants alleged that apprehensions were being reported at locations further east in the station than was actually the case. For example, one witness testified that in March or April 1996 a group of approximately 12 aliens was apprehended in Zone 1, the westernmost zone at Brown Field. A supervisor allegedly told this agent to report these apprehensions in Zone 6, the easternmost zone at Brown Field, to "keep the big guy happy." The agent said he did not know to whom the supervisor was referring, and the agent denied making the requested change. On another occasion, this witness said he observed the same supervisor erasing something from an alien tracking sheet which indicated where aliens had been apprehended. The witness said he thought this was unusual. He did not look at the report, however, so he has no information as to what the supervisor may have erased.
The supervisor denied ever telling an agent to change an apprehension zone notation. He did say, however, that agents sometimes erred in designating apprehension zones because they did not carry maps into the field. Agent estimates of location were often incorrect. This was a particular problem with respect to an area designated Zone 13. Zone 13 was located north of the border but was not adjacent to the border at any point. Agents who apprehended aliens in Zone 13 sometimes incorrectly recorded this zone as the place of both entry and apprehension. Because this zone is not adjacent to the border, however, it could not have been the location of entry into the country.
Because the complaining agent could not provide any specific date or documentation for either of the events he described, we could not confirm or refute his claim. Several other supervisors mentioned the Zone 13 problem, however, and two commented that agents may have interpreted Zone 13 corrections as supervisors telling them to falsify reports.
Although we cannot resolve this dispute in the testimony, we make the following observations about this allegation. First, there is no apparent motive for a supervisor to falsify location data within a station. This data is not reported outside the Sector, and it is used solely to inform deployment decisions within the station. Falsifying location data within a station would only hamper the enforcement activities of that station. Although the Union claimed that location data was altered in order to demonstrate that illegal traffic had shifted east, the issue was not whether traffic had moved east within Brown Field but whether traffic had moved from Imperial Beach to Brown Field or beyond. Even if data regarding hundreds of apprehensions within Brown Field were altered, these changes would have no impact on this central issue.
Second, in late March 1996 - at about the time that the alleged zone fabrications took place - all Brown Field supervisors received an electronic message from the PAIC asking them to ensure that apprehension locations were recorded in the correct tiers or zones. Thus, whoever "the big guy" was that the supervisor allegedly referred to, it was not likely to have been the PAIC. Moreover, the CPA had no apparent motive to desire fabricated location data, because the success of the Sector was never determined by internal station figures. Accordingly, the claim that the apprehension zone for 12 aliens was altered to "make the big guy happy" makes no sense.
Third, unless a substantial amount of location data was regularly falsified, these alterations would have no impact. And if a substantial number of location figures were regularly falsified, these fabrications would be obvious to numerous agents. Unless tally sheets, I-826/I-827 forms, and IDENT records were all falsified, the fabrications would be obvious to anyone reviewing these documents.
Finally, the absence of similar claims from other agents indicates that the complaining agent likely misinterpreted his supervisor's instruction.
Other complaints regarding falsified location information at Brown Field were related to the issue of fixed positions or "Xs." These stationary positions are disliked by agents, who prefer to have freedom of movement. One witness testified that in late 1995 several aliens were apprehended within 100 yards of the Otay Mesa POE, but were reported as being apprehended in a location approximately 100 to 200 yards east. He told the OIG that agents and supervisors had said that if apprehensions increased near the POE, more agents would be assigned to stationary positions near the POE. In an effort to avoid that result, agents reported the apprehensions in the next zone to the east.
Another agent gave similar testimony. He said that supervisors told agents that if too many aliens were apprehended in a particular area, more Xs would be created in that area. In order to avoid this result, supervisors allegedly suggested to agents that they "spread" apprehensions throughout the station's area of responsibility. This agent said he changed apprehension locations on at least five occasions for this reason.
Although supervisors almost certainly made agents aware that more Xs would be created in areas experiencing increased alien traffic and apprehensions, we do not find credible the claim that supervisors instructed agents to falsify reports to avoid establishing more Xs.
One other agent from Brown Field claimed that supervisors had ordered agents to misreport entry locations. He said he had heard that some unnamed supervisors had instructed agents that aliens apprehended in the Otay Lakes area be reported as having entered the United States at El Cajon.
Otay Lakes is within Zone 13, the part of Brown Field which is not adjacent to the border. Given Zone 13's distance from the border, it would not be unusual for aliens apprehended in this zone to have crossed the border in another station's area of responsibility. The apprehended aliens themselves were unlikely to be helpful in clarifying the station of their entry. They are generally not familiar with the area; they usually cross in the dark and do not have an opportunity to observe distinguishing landmarks; and they have no way of knowing a station's geographical zones and boundaries. Most importantly, apprehended aliens have no motive to disclose the point of entry successfully used by their smuggler.
For all these reasons, devising a pre-set "best guess" may make sense for particular locations. We do not have sufficient information to determine whether someone suggested, either seriously or as a joke, that some aliens apprehended in Brown Field should be recorded as having entered the country through El Cajon, or whether it is an appropriate "best guess" for that location. We do know, however, that it was not unusual for aliens who entered through El Cajon to travel west through Brown Field toward their intended final destination.
Two Chula Vista agents reported that supervisors had told them to change the reported location of apprehension for some aliens. The first agent claimed that certain supervisors at musters told the midnight shift that they did "not want any apprehensions" in particular areas - usually E-1 or E-2, the first two positions east of the San Ysidro POE. He said agents interpreted these remarks to mean that they should not apprehend any aliens moving through these areas and should chase any such aliens into the next area to the east before apprehending them. The agent claimed that these instructions from supervisors were part of "a deliberate effort to make it appear [that] traffic was moving east."
Other agents reported that supervisors wanted fewer apprehensions at E-1 through E-4. One agent also reported that it was known that a particular supervisor "got upset" when there were many apprehensions in Zone 1, so agents deliberately reported their apprehensions in Zone 1 to provoke a reaction from this supervisor. Another testified that agents knew supervisors wanted fewer apprehensions in Zone 1 so they randomly reported apprehensions in Zones 5 and 6. They did not contend that supervisors told them to do this. Apparently they did this to avoid more lectures regarding traffic in Zone 1. This is consistent with the testimony of another agent that his fellow agents would alter the location of apprehension when they made an apprehension away from their assigned area because they did not want to get in trouble for being away from their assigned position. We conclude that some Chula Vista agents entered location data on the basis of what was expedient rather than what was correct.
Chula Vista supervisors we interviewed conceded that they wanted fewer apprehensions at the westernmost locations, which are adjacent to a busy commercial area in San Ysidro. Illegal traffic entering these western areas could quickly disappear into the crowds. The supervisors contend that their remarks indicating that they wanted fewer apprehensions in western locations were intended to encourage agents to concentrate on deterrence. They did not intend agents to forego apprehending aliens found in western locations, nor were they suggesting that agents should falsify apprehension location data. Based on our review of the evidence, we conclude that the supervisors in this instance were urging deterrence, not falsification of reports.
Only one agent at Chula Vista claimed that a supervisor directly told him to change an apprehension location report. This agent stated that a supervisor told him to change the location from a zone north of Highway 905 to a zone adjacent to the San Ysidro POE. This change would not tend to show movement east, because this latter zone is the westernmost zone at Chula Vista. Ironically, it is also the zone in which other agents claimed supervisors did not want apprehensions recorded. The agent did not identify the supervisor who allegedly ordered this change, and did not suggest why a supervisor would make this request. Given the lack of details, we could not further investigate this claim.
Four agents at Imperial Beach reported hearing rumors that agents had falsified apprehension locations on I-826/I-827 forms. These agents provided no details, however, and none alleged that alterations were made at the behest of a supervisor.
The only remaining claim of falsified location information came from a Temecula agent. He testified that on one occasion he and other agents had been pressured to falsify an alien's entry location. A supervisor reviewing a group of processed aliens said that some of them "need[ed] to be CAX." CAX is the abbreviation for the Calexico, California, Border Patrol Station, which is approximately 120 miles east of San Diego. Without more information it is impossible to determine what this ambiguous statement was intended to mean. At various times many aliens apprehended in the San Diego Sector were transported to the Calexico POE to be VR'd. The supervisor could have been referring to where these aliens should be sent. In any event, because no aliens apprehended at the Temecula checkpoint entered the country there, there is no obvious motive for a supervisor to falsify such information. Regardless of where the aliens entered, they were reported as being apprehended in Temecula.
Even assuming the truth of the claims we reviewed of falsified location apprehension data, they do not establish that there was any widespread effort to inaccurately report this data. Moreover, because these claims were limited to intra-station locations, any falsifications would not have misled the public about illegal traffic patterns. The Brown Field apprehensions, regardless of whether they were on the mesa or on the mountain, were listed as Brown Field apprehensions in public reports. Finally, there is substantial evidence that the falsification of location information was instigated by agents who sought to (1) avoid the creation of additional stationary positions; (2) avoid recording that they were out of position; or (3) aggravate a supervisor.
G. Allegation that aliens were being VR'd at eastern POEs to make it appear that illegal traffic had shifted east as a result of Operation Gatekeeper
In the initial North County Times article regarding these allegations, Bonner charged that the Border Patrol was transporting apprehended persons "to East County stations to make it look as though the flow of traffic is moving east." Bonner later told INS's OIA, however, that his claim was that aliens were being transported not to East County locations but to Imperial County and to Arizona for return to Mexico. Bonner insisted that this transportation program had been initiated to make it appear that illegal traffic had shifted east to avoid Operation Gatekeeper. He also alleged in his Congressional testimony that the El Centro Border Patrol Sector, where most of these aliens were being VR'd, "has about half the manpower and resources that it did when Operation Gatekeeper began. This makes it easier for smugglers to circumvent the Border Patrol in that area." This remark implied that the Border Patrol was intentionally releasing aliens in locations where they were likely to enter successfully.
All parties agree that with the onset of Gatekeeper the Border Patrol began a program to return persons apprehended at western Border Patrol stations to POEs east of the San Diego Sector, including Calexico and Andrade, California, and San Luis, Arizona. The scope of this effort varied over time, but thousands of aliens have been transported to eastern POEs since the beginning of Gatekeeper. What is in dispute is whether this transportation program was - as Bonner claimed - part of an effort to fool the public into thinking that illegal traffic had shifted eastward, or was - as claimed by the Border Patrol - a legitimate program aimed at better managing alien traffic.
Agents explained to us that one major problem in dealing with alien traffic at Imperial Beach and Chula Vista prior to Gatekeeper was that agents might be called upon to apprehend the same individual several times during the same shift. An alien would be apprehended, processed, and returned to Mexico at the San Ysidro POE, and minutes later make another attempt to cross into the United States a short distance away. Prior to Gatekeeper, smugglers actually guaranteed that their clients would reach Los Angeles, and if a client was apprehended, he returned to his smuggler in Mexico and simply tried again. This process continued until the client reached his destination.
This problem was so severe that agents commonly attempted to keep apprehended aliens in custody until the end of their shift so that they would not have to reapprehend and reprocess the same individuals again that night. Although agents realized that they were apprehending the same people over and over again, this could not be proven. The detained aliens frequently gave false information, and unless an agent personally knew that a particular alien had been formally deported or had a criminal record, the alien was repeatedly granted a voluntary return. The cycle frequently continued until the alien successfully entered the country.
Witnesses told us that if apprehended aliens were returned to ports significantly further east, this cycle could be broken. Returning the aliens to locations a hundred miles or more further east put them into unfamiliar territory. They would not know the best routes across the border, and their smuggler would not be there to help them. The transport program presented apprehended aliens with the following unpalatable options if they were determined to re-enter the United States: (1) cross unfamiliar territory without assistance; (2) hire a new smuggler and attempt a much longer journey to Los Angeles; or (3) make arrangements to return to Tijuana and start over. Even if the apprehended alien chose the last alternative, the transport program at least insured that the agents at Imperial Beach could address the remaining traffic instead of confronting immediate reentry attempts.
The problem of immediate reentry attempts was well-documented long before Gatekeeper was initiated. The August 1994 draft of the proposed Imperial Beach operational plan - which became the blueprint for Operation Gatekeeper - noted that removing apprehended aliens to ports of entry other than San Ysidro or Otay Mesa was "critical to the success of the operation." The plan pointed out that returning aliens through the two western ports of entry encouraged the immediate reentry attempts "which are responsible for much of the alien traffic encountered by the Imperial Beach Station." The plan suggested using the Calexico and San Luis POEs for returns, and commented that "[i]f we continue to return [aliens] through the San Ysidro POE we have lost our greatest deterrent factor."
Consistent with this view, at the outset of Operation Gatekeeper the Border Patrol began to transport aliens east. In the first year of Gatekeeper, the number of aliens transported east represented only a small percentage of the total number of aliens apprehended in San Diego. Although the program grew over time, the number of undocumented aliens transported east remained a relatively small percentage of the total number apprehended. For example, in October 1995, 1,559 aliens apprehended in the San Diego Sector were VR'd outside the Sector, while in October 1996 this number rose to 8,524. This still was only 39 percent of the persons apprehended within the San Diego Sector.
Bonner's claim that this transportation program was created to make Gatekeeper look more successful is undercut by the fact that it was designed well before anyone decided to launch a program such as Gatekeeper in San Diego. Similarly, his claim that this program was used to make it appear that traffic was moving east is contradicted by the fact that no one disputed that traffic was in fact moving east.
From May 1995 to November 1995, the number of aliens apprehended at the East County stations increased by more than 30,000 from the same time period the previous year. Citizens and agents alike agreed that the East County was inundated as a result of Gatekeeper's efforts in the west. The Border Patrol did not need to make it appear that traffic was moving east, because this unquestionably was happening. That this was not due primarily to the Border Patrol's transportation of aliens is substantiated by the fact that during the first full year of Gatekeeper the number of aliens VR'd at Calexico, Andrade, and San Luis was still fairly low. Statistics from May 1995 through November 1995 indicate that only about 8,500 aliens, or 2.7 percent of the total apprehended in the San Diego Sector, were VR'd at these three stations. As noted above, the number of aliens apprehended at the East County stations increased by more than 30,000 from the same time period the previous year.
Bonner also claimed that the El Centro Sector was staffed at only half of its pre-Gatekeeper strength, and from this inferred that the Border Patrol deliberately returned aliens to sectors where they would encounter less resistance in entering the country. The evidence indicates that his staffing allegation is baseless and that his factual inferences are unfounded. As shown in the chart below, El Centro's permanent staff was down only slightly and, with the influx of detailees, in some months in 1996 El Centro's staffing exceeded pre-Gatekeeper levels.
Moreover, Bonner's suggestion that entry through the Calexico area is easy is questionable. The Calexico POE is centrally located in the Imperial Valley, a relatively flat, open area where alien traffic is vulnerable to apprehension. The aliens brought to this region by the Border Patrol are in unknown territory without their smuggler. They must choose whether to hire a new smuggler in that area or pay to return to San Diego to make a new attempt there. Traveling to Los Angeles from Calexico is also significantly more difficult than from San Diego, particularly with the addition of a Border Patrol checkpoint on the westbound lanes of I-8, the most direct route west from the Imperial Valley. The new checkpoint indicates that the Border Patrol did not intend to reroute the illegal traffic and then ignore it.
Finally, Bonner's claim that the transportation program was conceived and implemented in bad faith as a way to mislead the public about illegal traffic patterns is undercut by the fact that the program actually improved conditions at Imperial Beach. An electronic message from the PAIC at Imperial Beach, a memorandum from the head of ADR, and notes of meetings discussing the Calexico program all report that when fewer aliens were transported east, and most apprehended aliens were VR'd at San Ysidro, Imperial Beach encountered significantly higher levels of traffic. Agents confirmed that they noticed a difference when aliens were VR'd away from San Ysidro.90
Based on the facts set forth above, we reject as unsubstantiated Bonner's claim that the Calexico/Andrade transportation program was intended to mislead the public about alien traffic patterns and the success of Operation Gatekeeper.
H. Summary of the OIG's conclusions regarding the alleged falsification of apprehension statistics
Allegations that the San Diego Sector's apprehension statistics had been falsified struck directly at Operation Gatekeeper's claims of success. Although one could argue that the Border Patrol had a motive to fabricate apprehension numbers - particularly after Commissioner Meissner promised a Congressional panel that they would fall by 70 percent in one year - we discovered no evidence of any concerted effort by the Border Patrol to falsely reduce apprehension statistics.
Significantly, no witness claimed to have first-hand knowledge that an apprehension statistic had been fabricated. Absent rumor, there was no oral testimony that supported this claim. Extensive reviews of intelligence reports at all levels of the Border Patrol and INS likewise uncovered no supporting evidence. Furthermore, testimony from all levels of the organization indicated that any effort to alter apprehension statistics could not succeed because of several factors.
First, there are too many sources of apprehension data, including apprehension forms, apprehension tallies, scope reports, and transport logs, among others. Anyone attempting to falsify apprehension records would have to consistently alter each of these reports to avoid an obvious contradictory paper trail. Second, responsibility for gathering apprehension information was shared among many agents, who were frequently rotated to other positions. Accordingly, successful fabrication would require the active cooperation and collaboration of numerous individuals at multiple levels of the organization. Third, because of the huge number of apprehensions recorded in the San Diego Sector and at Imperial Beach, any effort to substantially reduce apprehension numbers would require consistently large adjustments to figures. Shaving numbers on an occasional basis on one shift would not have a noticeable impact on apprehension totals. In fiscal year 1994 Imperial Beach reported 181,416 apprehensions. In fiscal year 1995 reported apprehensions declined 34 percent to 120,630. If this reduction were the result of fabricated numbers, Border Patrol employees would have to be shaving more than 160 aliens from the totals every day of the year. We found no evidence that this occurred on any single day, let alone on a daily basis.
Nor was the claim that apprehension records were discarded or "mysteriously lost" substantiated. Only one witness claimed to have seen this occur, and he represented that he had done it himself with respect to records concerning approximately 100 aliens. This agent identified no witnesses to this event, which he claimed was provoked by a supervisor's comment that the agent had a large stack of forms on his desk. Other testimony from this agent, however, suggested that he discarded the records because he did not want to sort them by zone. Although this witness kept a log of what he deemed to be "significant" incidents of fraud or other inappropriate conduct, no mention of discarded records appears on his list.
Again, to make a noticeable difference, thousands of records would have to be destroyed or discarded. Because apprehensions are recorded in several ways, including scope reports, transport logs, and IDENT, large numbers of missing I-826/I-827 forms would be obvious and traceable. No one, however, produced documentation of such an event, and we did not discover any such evidence in our review of documents.
Although we found isolated instances in which apprehended aliens were not properly processed, there was no evidence of a concerted effort to avoid processing aliens so that apprehension totals would fall. On occasion, aliens were returned to Mexico "over the fence" with no record made of their apprehension. Similarly, some aliens were returned through a POE without proper processing. The evidence showed, however, that such conduct was rare and would have had no measurable impact on reported apprehensions. Processing and record lapses generally involved intoxicated or pregnant aliens, or non-Mexican nationals. These lapses did not occur because Gatekeeper was in effect. Indeed, there was ample evidence that such incidents occurred prior to Gatekeeper. In addition, the decision not to process was almost always made by individual agents, not by supervisors. We saw substantial evidence that such conduct - particularly "local VRs" over the fence - resulted in disciplinary action against those involved.
The only failure to process allegations that implicated numbers large enough to influence perceptions of station performance involved rainy nights at Chula Vista when the station was "overrun" with illegal traffic. Our investigation revealed, however, that while aliens apprehended on such nights may not have been processed through IDENT, they were processed on hard copy forms and counted in station totals. Thus there was no impact on the station's reported apprehension figures.
Allegations that aliens apprehended in the west were reported as apprehended in the east were also unfounded. There was simply no evidence that supported this claim. Although there was some evidence of inaccurate reporting within station boundaries, this stemmed from innocent mistakes or agent hostility to the creation of additional stationary positions. Moreover, there was no evidence that these inaccurate reports had any impact on publicly reported illegal traffic patterns. Any inaccurate data only hampered internal station operations.
Finally, we saw no evidence that the program to VR apprehended aliens in sectors east of San Diego was implemented for fraudulent purposes. The evidence demonstrates that this program was intended to eliminate immediate reentry attempts, to separate aliens from their smugglers, and to make entry more difficult. This program achieved each of these goals.
We close with several general observations concerning the Union's allegations. First, the Union alleged that fraudulent activities were occurring on a large scale but these activities stopped suddenly when the OIG investigation began. If that were true, a sudden increase in reported apprehensions should have occurred when the investigation began. There was no such increase.
Bonner's allegations were made public on June 23, 1996; OIA began its investigation by July 1; and the OIG was involved by July 8. As shown in the graph below, Imperial Beach's apprehensions actually decreased 10 percent in July when the investigations began, recovered 5 percent in August, and remained essentially stable through September. In contrast, in July 1995 Imperial Beach apprehensions rose 10 percent from the prior month, and rose an additional 6 percent in August. In 1995 Imperial Beach apprehensions in August were 1,924 higher than the June totals. In 1996 the August totals were 258 fewer than the June numbers. Chula Vista saw an increase of 211 reported apprehensions in July 1996 and an increase of 201 in August. In September, however, apprehensions decreased by more than 2,200. Sector-wide there was a 12 percent decline in apprehensions in July 1996, a rebound to June levels in August, and a 25 percent decline in September. More than half of the August increase was recorded in the East County stations, where no one has alleged that apprehension statistics were falsified.
Second, any scheme to falsify apprehension statistics would have required the cooperation of numerous employees. Witness after witness literally laughed at the notion that such a complex scheme could have been implemented during Gatekeeper. With virtually no notice, the Sector had been assigned the task of creating an operation that completely altered the way the agents did their job. There were numerous new reporting requirements, and there were huge influxes of personnel, both detailees from other sectors and new recruits. Personnel scrambled to perform their new responsibilities. Such conditions are not conducive to intricate, carefully conceived and orchestrated schemes. The Sector attempted but failed to convince the stations even to use the same intelligence forms for reporting data, so it is highly unlikely it could have obtained agreement on an illicit scheme to falsify apprehension figures.
Third, the number of agents who claimed to have knowledge of efforts to falsify statistics was extremely small. Although some might be tempted to suggest that only a few agents were willing to "tell the truth," we would disagree with that assessment. The vast majority of witnesses we encountered were extremely credible and cooperative. Any Union member who requested confidential informant status received that protection. Accordingly, witnesses could reveal wrongdoing without fear of being identified, and numerous witnesses did in fact provide unflattering information about Border Patrol operations and personnel. The failure of these same witnesses to provide any information corroborating the allegations discussed above is compelling evidence that they are unfounded.
Finally, given the nature of these allegations, if they were true, supporting documentation would exist. The fact that not a single witness could offer any corroborating documentation is substantial evidence that the allegations are untrue.
89 Although Bonner suggested in his OIA interview that this had occurred, he subsequently told the OIG that his complaint was that aliens in the west were being taken to POEs in Imperial County and Arizona so that they would make their next crossing attempt in the east instead of at Imperial Beach. We address this claim in the next section.
90 Bonner also complained that the transportation program was expensive. Because this complaint presents a management issue rather than a question of fraud, we did not investigate its merits.