Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody
Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody
INS Management's Response
I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the subject report and solicited input from the senior management official who is most significantly impacted, the Executive Associate Commissioner for Field Operations. I reviewed the response and concur with the conclusions and observations.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service is aggressively improving the care and the safeguarding of minors in the Service custody. Your recommendations for additional improvements are being implemented as quickly as the new policy and procedures are approved, and additional staff is added.
If you have any questions, please contact Kathleen Stanley, Audit Liaison, at (202)-514-8800.
cc: Vickie L. Sloan, DOJ Audit Liaison
This memorandum contains the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS/Service) response to the above captioned report. The INS welcomes the suggestions made by the Office of the Inspector General and will incorporate the recommendations into the Juvenile Affairs Division's strategic plan. The successful implementation of many of the recommendations will require additional staff to ensure a sound infrastructure from INS Headquarters throughout the country.
Although the report identifies areas for improvement, it is worth noting that over the past several years, the INS has made countless accomplishments in providing for the needs of minors in Service custody. The Flores v. Reno Settlement was signed in February of 1997, and within one year, the INS attained and has since then maintained substantial compliance with the terms and conditions of the Settlement. In many areas, the INS exceeded the Settlement's requirements and continues to work on improving its Juvenile Program.
The INS' responses to the recommendations display a continued commitment to provide for the needs of minors in its custody.
RECOMMENDATION 1: The INS should include and enforce standards in all contracts with secure detention facilities that require the segregation of non-delinquent INS juveniles from delinquent juveniles. These standards should provide for strict segregation in living quarters and no more than minimal contact in all other common areas. The facilities should be required to immediately notify INS if they cannot meet this requirement so the INS can take immediate corrective action.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS concurs with this recommendation. However, it should be noted that the Flores v Reno Settlement allows for this type of placement under certain conditions (see attachment #1). The INS' Juvenile Detention or Shelter Care Standards (see attachment #2) and the Flores v Reno Settlement are attached to all INS juvenile facility contracts.
During the past year, the INS has been working on increasing the number of beds for juveniles in its shelter care programs as well as adding to its cadre of shelter care facilities. By securing additional beds and facilities, the INS plans to develop a specialized residential program during FY 2002 that would serve non-delinquent juveniles who would otherwise be placed in a secure facility as per the Flores guidelines. ]'his program would be designed to accommodate long-term cases (9 to 22 months), juveniles with behavioral problems, and juveniles deemed to be flight risks. Funding has already been allocated to begin work in this area.
The INS is currently targeting Phoenix, Arizona as a pilot site for this program. The opening date is May 2002. It is anticipated that if this program is successful, two more will be opened by March 2003.
RECOMMENDATION 2: The INS should implement procedures that ensure weekly visits with all juveniles in custody and to all juvenile housing facilities. The procedures should establish clear descriptions of the content of the visits and documentation requirements. The INS should delegate authority to appropriately trained staff to assist District Juvenile Coordinators in complying with the weekly visitation requirements.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS has an existing policy (see attachment #3) requiring that the District Juvenile Coordinator or his/her designee visit juveniles placed in secure or non-secure facilities on a weekly basis to monitor the juvenile's status, research family reunification options, and address any questions or concerns the juvenile may have. As mentioned in the OIG's report, this requirement is not always met. Staffing is an issue as well as the distances between facilities and district offices. The INS will review this issue and identify effective resources and opportunities to more fully comply with this requirement. This issue will be addressed and new guidelines will be sent to the field by November 2001.
RECOMMENDATION 3: The INS should implement procedures that require same-sex escort of juveniles. If same-sex escorts are not possible, procedures for appropriate alternative safeguards for juveniles should be followed.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS currently has an escort policy that requires same-sex when escorting unaccompanied juveniles (see attachment #4). A section of the policy addresses procedures for alternative safeguards. Headquarters will send a memorandum within the next 45 days to all field offices regarding adherence to this policy and include this policy in the planned update of policy and procedures.
RECOMMENDATION 4: The INS should implement procedures that require juvenile transportation and detention custodial records that provide sufficient accountability for all juveniles detained in the custody of the Border Patrol sectors and the districts.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS concurs with this recommendation and there is an existing process in place. Currently, the INS uses two forms (G-391 and 1-216) to document the transport of people and property, and assign activities to specific officers. In an effort to improve this system, INS is working on developing an automated system that, among other things, will capture this type of information. In the meantime, INS will review its current system and explore other options. The automated system will be completed by June 2003.
RECOMMENDATION 5: The INS should implement procedures that require INS officers, or designated non-INS personnel under contract with the INS, to escort and maintain physical custody of all juveniles until the juvenile is released to a sponsor.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS currently has an escort policy (see attachment #4) for juveniles which is included in the Juvenile Protocol Manual. The INS will review this policy and include an updated version that addresses this issue in the manual. It is planned that the policy will be reviewed and revised October 2003.
RECOMMENDATION 6: The INS should implement specific rules that govern the use of restraints on juveniles in the custody of INS officers, in shelter facilities, and in secure facilities. The INS should implement procedures to monitor compliance.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS secure detention standards state that facilities must have written policy, procedure, and practice that provide that instruments of restraint are never applied as punishment and are applied only with the approval of the facility administrator or designee. These instruments must only be used as a precaution against escape during transfer, for medical reasons by direction of the medical officer; and to prevent juvenile self injury, injury to others, or property damage; and should not be applied for more time than is absolutely necessary. Designated INS personnel are required to formally inspect juvenile facilities once a year, and detention standards are attached to all INS Inter Governmental Service Agreements (IGSA's) and cooperative agreements. A review of the INS' policies and procedures will be conducted and appropriate updates will be completed by February 2003.
RECOMMENDATION 7: The INS should revise its policy regarding telephone use by juveniles to ensure juveniles without funds are able to make appropriate telephone calls and juveniles are permitted access to telephones that at least meet the minimum requirements.
RESPONSE: Concur. In September 2000 the INS modified the policy and inspection standard for telephone use in secure and non-secure juvenile facilities. Prior to this modification each standard read as follows:
Shelter Care Standard:
3-JCRF-5G-05 (Ref. 2-6189):
Secure Inspection Standard:
3-JDF-5G-11 (Ref. 2-8392)
Additional language has been added to EACH standard as follows:
All contracts will provide for a minimum of two personal phone calls per week, totaling no less than 10 minutes. Special circumstances, i.e., security issues or the juvenile's emotional status, may require a re-determination. Telephone calls to attorneys, UNHCR, consulates, and INS case officers will be unlimited within facility guidelines.
Although this language is supposed to be incorporated in INS' cooperative agreements and Inter Governmental Service Agreements (IGSA's), the OIG's report noted several discrepancies regarding this policy during the program review. As a result, the INS will review all facility cooperative agreements and IGSA's to ensure the above standard is incorporated into the statements of work. In addition, the INS will ensure that compliance with this standard is upheld during annual inspections. These corrective measures will be in place by June 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 8: The INS should implement procedures that require the monitoring and regular reporting of instances of non-compliance with the 3-to-5-day placement requirement. These procedures should include the reporting of justifications for the overdue placements.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS requires that all districts provide weekly reports on alien juveniles taken into INS custody through the Juvenile Alien Management System (JAMS). The JAMS contains a series of codes describing the reasons for specific types of placements. There are occasions where juveniles are not placed within the required time frames. These episodes are infrequent; however, the INS will review existing procedures and develop and implement a system that will ensure better compliance with this requirement. The INS will complete this activity by June 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 9: The INS should require districts to designate and train backup juvenile coordinators.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS will continue working with field offices to help them identify strategies to designate and train back-up juvenile coordinators. Informational systems such as JAMS will continue to be used to analyze various levels of activity throughout the country. A formula was developed to assist in identifying the number of personnel needed at districts throughout the country to effectively manage and track juvenile cases. For every 50 juveniles in custody at a particular location, the INS concluded that four positions would be needed to meet placement, transportation, and case management requirements. In locations where numbers were less than or greater than 50, the number of positions identified will vary, based on custody levels and the level of effort associated with the performance of required duties. The INS will have back-up juvenile coordinators identified and develop a regular training component by April 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 10: The INS should re-emphasize to all INS officers the requirement to immediately notify the district juvenile coordinators of all placements and movement o f juveniles and to complete and forward all required documents to the district juvenile coordinators.
INS RESPONSE: Concur. INS provided communications to the field on policies and procedures relating to alien juveniles. In July 2000, INS posted the Juvenile Protocol Manual on the INS bulletin board, established training on INS requirements in all INS academies, and conducted a juvenile training conference in September 2000.
INS will continue to develop and address effective training and communications through the Juvenile Issues Roundtable Working Group. These will include memorandums and informational packages and emphasize and support other critical policies and procedures related to alien juveniles. The working group will meet to establish a timetable for these notifications as well as assist in identifying their content. This activity will be accomplished by November 2001; however, regular communications and training will be ongoing.
RECOMMENDATION 11: The INS should provide a list of all approved juvenile housing facilities to the districts and Border Patrol sectors with the stipulation that no juveniles are to be placed in a facility without the prior notification of the juvenile coordinator.
RESPONSE: Concur. This activity will be accomplished by October 2001.
RECOMMENDATION 12: The INS should identify all juvenile housing facilities now being used by the districts and Border Patrol sectors to house juveniles.
RESPONSE: Concur. The JAMS system contains a list of all juvenile facilities used by the INS. Approximately every six months, the INS updates its facility list in conjunction with the Regional and District Juvenile Coordinators. The INS will continue this activity, which was initiated several years ago.
RECOMMENDATION 13: Each Border Patrol sector should designate a coordinator for juvenile issues to ensure timely liaison with the District Juvenile Coordinators.
INS RESPONSE: Concur. A number of INS Border Patrol sectors have a designated coordinator for this purpose. However, as the OIG's report states, this is not true for all sectors. The INS will begin working at the headquarters level to initiate strategies and activities necessary for the successful implementation of this recommendation. This activity will be accomplished by October 2001.
RECOMMENDATION 14: Districts with a large volume of juvenile activity should provide administrative support to the District Juvenile Coordinator.
RESPONSE: Concur. This recommendation will be addressed as mentioned in the INS response to recommendation 9. INS' formula for requesting positions for the juvenile program called for a team of four individuals for every 50 juveniles in custody. This would include a juvenile coordinator, a docket clerk or assistant juvenile coordinator, and two transportation officers (Detention Officers). The docket clerk or assistant juvenile coordinator, or the transportation officers could serve as a "back-up" for the juvenile coordinator when needed.
As mentioned in above, research on this issue has already commenced, and the INS should have a staffing plan in place by November 2001, and if approved, a deployment plan by January 2002, and personnel in place by March 2003. It should be noted that INS' level of success in this endeavor will be impacted by the number of full-time positions allotted for FY 2002 and FY 2003 as well as time and issues associated with hiring personnel.
RECOMMENDATION 15: The INS should implement contract compliance procedures to ensure contracted facilities comply with their contractual responsibilities.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS has contracts with juvenile service providers via cooperative agreements, and Inter-governmental Service Agreements (IGSA's). Although the INS has established policies and procedures to ensure that facilities comply with their contractual responsibilities, the OIG's report noted a need for improvement. The INS will review and develop grant and contract monitoring procedures and practices. This review will include existing practices, other Federal agency practices, and monitoring activities. The INS has established minimum inspection standards for secure and non-secure juvenile facilities (see attachment #2). These standards are modeled on those put forth by the American Correctional Association (ACA). To help ensure compliance, INS has combined juvenile program staff from the Office of International Affairs with program staff from the Office of Detention and Removal to form the Juvenile Affairs Division. The issues identified in the OIG's report were addressed and corrected shortly after this merger took place. The primary reason for the merger was to combine activities and responsibilities in one office to promote efficiency enhance monitoring and compliance activities. Current contract compliance procedures require facility visits and facility inspections by trained INS personnel. In addition, the INS will develop a system that better monitors compliance and ensures accountability. This system will include a compliance team comprised of personnel from HQ, the Regions and the Districts. The system and monitoring instrument will be completed by October 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 16: The INS should establish regular communications at the district level with volunteer agencies, shelter staff, and legal service providers to identify and resolve juvenile detention issues.
RESPONSE: Concur. Many INS district offices meet routinely with these groups. In addition, these groups routinely meet with Juvenile Affairs Division staff. As the OIG's report states the INS' relationships with these groups in most districts was professional, if not cordial.
The INS believes that ongoing communication with these groups at this level can have a very positive impact and outcome. Consequently, the INS will survey the field to identify the districts that routinely engage in this type of activity and encourage other districts to identify and meet with appropriate organizations and groups on an ongoing basis. In addition, the INS will develop a reporting mechanism for these activities and headquarters staff will begin to more regularly attend these meetings to provide support and monitor their progress. This activity will be completed by December 2001.
RECOMMENDATION 17: The INS should develop a national plan for assessing its needs for secure, medium secure, and non-secure bed space and acquiring needed additional beds.
RESPONSE: Concur. The OIG's report noted that the "INS' FY 97 - 02 5-year Interior Enforcement Strategy set as a strategic goal for FY 2000 the acquisition of additional juvenile detention beds. The INS has made substantial gains in meeting this priority." The INS now has guaranteed access to approximately 495 non-secure beds and approximately 110 secure beds. The report also states that "in the past few years, the push for additional beds came from the Juvenile Program headquarters...the push for new facilities (now) also comes from the field offices." The report mentions that the "Juvenile Program from headquarters, with help from the regions, now assesses requests from districts that want facilities in their jurisdiction, solicit interest from potential facilities, and evaluate unsolicited proposals from companies or facilities interested in housing juveniles for the INS."
To this the INS would add that informational systems such as JAMS are used to identify areas where a juvenile facility may be warranted. As mentioned in the OIG's report, the Juvenile Program at headquarters works with the regions and the districts and incorporates requests for juvenile bed space in its strategic planning.
However, as the INS continues to engage in these national efforts to maintain an updated national plan, a more formal methodology and model to address this issue will be developed and incorporated into the strategic plan. The resources for this project will be included in the FY 2003 budget submission. This activity will be completed by October 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 18: The INS should implement procedures that require at least quarterly reporting of instances of non-delinquent juveniles placed in secure detention. The procedures should include the duration of stay in secure detention for each instance.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS requires that all districts provide weekly reports on alien juveniles taken into INS custody through the Juvenile Alien Management System (JAMS). This system contains a series of codes describing the reasons for specific types of placements as
This system contains a series of codes describing the reasons for specific types of placements as well as detailed information to include length of stay. There are occasions when non-delinquent juveniles are placed in secure detention for a number of reasons. These reasons are documented in JAMS. Three months ago, the INS began producing weekly reports of juveniles in custody 90 days and over for review and discussion with the regional coordinators. This is to assist in overall case management and monitoring of program requirements.
The INS has been working with its personnel office to develop and finalize an appropriate position description to support this activity. Once the position description is completed, the INS will engage in activities related to advertising the position and hiring and individual to support this activity.
RECOMMENDATION 19: The INS should implement procedures that require regional juvenile coordinators to at least quarterly monitor, document, and report juvenile housing facility inspections to headquarters.
RESPONSE: Concur. This process is already in place. Therefore, no action is required.
RECOMMENDATION 20: The INS should implement procedures to collect, track, analyze, and report significant incident reports involving juveniles.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS has a procedure to track significant incident reports. However, as mentioned in the OIG's report, the system needs improvement. The INS agrees and will evaluate its current system and expand it to better monitor and collect these reports. The INS is currently working on a database to capture this type of information, which will be available to the field and headquarters. This activity will be completed March 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 21: The INS should regularly review JAMS and DACS to ensure the basic identifying data in both systems match and are accurate.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS has already begun performing data checks on both systems to monitor accuracy.
RECOMMENDATION 22: The INS should revise the Juvenile Protocol Manual to incorporate changes in juvenile policy or procedures and disseminate the revised manual to all field offices.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS concurs however, since the Juvenile Protocol Manual was disseminated no new policies on juveniles have been issued. Printed copies of the manual were distributed to all INS field offices. In addition, the manual was made available to INS personnel on the INS bulletin board. This is part of INS' internal e-mail system where other documents of this nature are posted for review and can be printed. The INS plans to evaluate and, where needed, revise existing policies and procedures. These revisions will be completed and made available to all INS personnel by October 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 23: The INS should revise the definition of what constitutes an influx condition, provide guidance for when the use of the INFLUX code is justified for placing non-delinquent juveniles in secure detention, and monitor to ensure that INFLUX is not inappropriately used as a reason for placing non-delinquent juveniles in secure detention.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS will review the definition of the term influx and instruct the field that only HQ can certify when there is an "INFLUX." It should be noted that INS personnel have been previously instructed (through training sessions and conference calls) that the term INFLUX means that there are no appropriate beds (juvenile shelter care) available anywhere in the country. This definition is independent of the one used in the Flores Settlement (130). That is, INFLUX in JAMS is not reflective of that in Flores. Based on the findings in the OIG's report, the INS will provide training to JAMS users in November 2001 on this issue and monitor the use of this term at the headquarters level (as mentioned above) effective immediately.
RECOMMENDATION 24: The INS should include the Juvenile Program in its INSpect reviews to monitor compliance.
RESPONSE: Concur. INSpect has been reviewing the juvenile program when conducting its assessments since 1997. Based on the results of the OIG review, and changes to procedures, INS will revise the INSpect guide to further address controls in the process. This will be completed by October 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 25: The INS should establish a continuing post-academy INS-wide training program to ensure all employees whose duties bring them into contact with juveniles understand and comply with the terms of the Flores agreement and document the training.
RESPONSE: Concur. Although the INS has conducted a number of training sessions on juvenile protocol and juvenile issues (as noted in the OIG's report), the Service agrees with this recommendation. Three years ago, the INS implemented training on the Flores Settlement in its academies. The INS will begin working with appropriate departments within headquarters and the academies to identify training issues and needs and then develop and implement post-academy training. This undertaking has many "moving-parts" and will require a significant level of effort from a number of components. This activity will be completed by June 2003.
RECOMMENDATION 26: The INS should allow District Directors discretion in releasing juveniles to a responsible sponsor if a parent is unwilling to come forward, and the INS should provide guidance to control discretionary release.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS' District Directors currently have release discretion. Procedures regarding release are already contained within the Juvenile Protocol Manual. Any revised procedures in this area or guidance will be immediately incorporated into the manual. Therefore, no further action is needed at this time.
RECOMMENDATION 27: The INS should evaluate the home assessment process and implement changes to streamline the process.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS is in the process of evaluating the home assessment process. This evaluation is being done as part of INS' overall evaluation of the Juvenile Program and will be incorporated into the juvenile program's strategic plan. This activity will be completed by February 2002.
RECOMMENDATION 28: The INS should confer with the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) to implement procedures to facilitate timely immigration hearings for juveniles and to improve juvenile attendance at immigration hearings.
RESPONSE: Concur. The INS has periodically met with EOIR on relevant issues over the last three years and will encourage and initiate more frequent meetings with EOIR in order to address critical issues relating to alien juveniles in INS custody. This activity is continuing and will be ongoing.
All questions and inquiries regarding this response should be directed to Mark A. Matese, Director, Juvenile Affairs Division, 202-305-2734.