(Updates with CBP response in final paragraph.)
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A Democratic lawmaker is calling on US Customs and Border Protection to ensure a “full accounting” of soon-to-be-disbanded border units that some lawmakers have accused of covering up agent misconduct.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) wrote to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus on Friday, urging him to preserve all records of the Border Patrol’s “critical incident teams” and to allow lawmakers to review the information. The letter was provided exclusively to Bloomberg Government.
Magnus announced plans to eliminate the units last week, after immigrants’ rights advocates and lawmakers raised concerns that they attempted to obfuscate agents’ culpability in accidents and misconduct cases. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will take over the units’ evidence collection and processing work starting in October.
Padilla called the decision “welcome and overdue.” He wrote he was concerned the teams had been “operating without legal authority while interfering with use of force investigations involving border agents, and that there has yet to be a full accounting of their actions and the subsequent harms.”
House and Senate Democrats called on the Government Accountability Office to review the border units earlier this year, and two House panels have opened investigations. Magnus initially defended the teams’ work as “vitally important” but pledged to cooperate with investigations.
CBP said it doesn’t comment on congressional correspondence and referred to a previous statement that says it’s eliminating the critical incident teams to “ensure CBP achieves the highest levels of accountability.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org