SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced intentions to do away with its controversial Critical Incident Response Teams.
The CIRTs have also been referred to as “shadow units” by some groups, including the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which called on Congress to investigate them.
SBCC says it discovered numerous instances where members of CIRTs, or CITs, have tampered, destroyed or hid evidence to deflect responsibility and liability away from CBP agents and officers involved in criminal and civil rights investigations.
According to a news release issued by SBCC on Monday morning, it “commends CBP for taking this action and acknowledges the leadership of (CBP) Commissioner (Chris) Magnus, who was responsive to community concerns about BPCIT,” said the release. “It is no easy feat to change a longstanding and problematic practice within the agency, and the Commissioner has taken an important step.”
The group also stated the next step will be to “fully account for the harm done by BPCITs over the three decades that they have operated and to assess where they have engaged in criminal acts of obstruction of justice… to that end, we call on the Commissioner to ensure that all records of BPCIT activities are preserved so that they can be reviewed independently by external law enforcement investigators, congressional oversight committees, and prosecutors.”
On October 1, the end of CBP’s 2022 fiscal year, the units will cease to exist, and up until that point, the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility will be in charge “ensuring all reviews and investigations are conducted by personnel with appropriate expertise, training and oversight,” said a CBP memo issued by the agency in lieu of a statement.
“We commend CBP for taking the monumental step of eliminating the Border Patrol cover-up units.” said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego. “This is an acknowledgment that these units have no place in investigations.”
Guerrero stated the end of these units is a benefit to everyone.
“Without that, there can be no justice, and our communities and our nation remain vulnerable to Border Patrol agents, supervisors, and chiefs who have broken our trust, broken their oath, and broken the safeguards that protect us from government corruption and abuse,” she said. “To move forward, we need an honest accounting of what has happened so that it never happens again.”