(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano seeking a wide range of documents as part of an investigation into charges by “agency insiders” that DHS has not accurately counted the number of border crossers who are not arrested or turned back when they enter the U.S. illegally.
“The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating allegations by agency insiders that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), one of its largest components, released false and misleading border crossing data,” states the Mar. 1 letter signed by Issa, chairman of the committee, and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations.
“Without an accurate measurement of how many illegal entrants become ‘got-aways,’ there is no way to assess the safety and security of the southwest border,” the letter states.
The letter also refers to Napolitano’s testimony before that Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last May when the secretary announced a new system would be used for measuring security and quality of life along the U.S. border with Mexico, as reported earlier by CNSNews.com. No details were cited by Napolitano at the hearing on exactly how the system would be used or when it would be implemented.
CNSNews.com interviewed Shawn Moran, a senior border patrol agent stationed in the San Diego sector and vice president of the National Border Patrol Council labor union, following the May 4, 2011 hearing. The interview was cited by Issa in the letter.
“Any sort of metric that DHS comes up with I think is – I’m going to be skeptical about from the get-go,” Moran said. “Until they actually address the problem of the people who get past us and find a real way to measure that, they’re never going to have a real picture of what’s going on, on the border.”
Moran said that in the 14 years he had been with border patrol, DHS has used the “static” number of 12 million as the number of illegal aliens living in the United States.
“I’ve heard for 14 years that I’ve been in this organization – in the border patrol – that we have 12 million illegal aliens in the country,” Moran said. “Well, I don’t think that’s true because I know that there are hundreds of thousands getting past us every year, so there’s no way that number has remained static.”
Issa’s letter reveals that in the wake of that Senate hearing last year, the CBP leadership changed the way “got-aways” are counted. And according to documents the committee already has reviewed, the agency is counting got-aways “as individuals who CBP could no longer reasonably expect to apprehend, illegal entrants who were not arrested or turned back south were considered outstanding subjects of active pursuit,” the letter states.
“Individuals and groups of people who crossed the border illegally were passed from shift to shift for days – well beyond the point that CBP lost track of them. Rather than count these individuals as got-aways on daily shift reports, they simply fell of the record entirely,” the letter states.
The letter also reveals that “an analysis of a small sample of shift reports from the Casa Grande border patrol station in Arizona showed that over a one-week period in April 2011, at least 82 illegal entrants who were not arrested or turned back south were not reported as got-aways.”
If those numbers are spread over a one-year period that would mean more than 268,000 people entered the U.S. illegally over a 12-month period and were never counted, according to the letter.
The committee said Napolitano should provide “all situation reports, operation reports, and shift reports from the eight patrol stations in the Tucson Sector created between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011.”
The deadline for Napolitano to provide the documents, without redaction, is March 15, 2012.