Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rep. Henry Cuellar Ensures Transparency of CBP and ICE with FY16 DHS Appropriations Bill

More transparency at Family Unit Detention Centers and at land bridge crossings

Rafael Benavides | Aug 02, 2015

WASHINGTON, (July 16, 2025) -- Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28), member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, was successful in adding language into the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. The language in the bill, which passed Tuesday, would bring more transparency within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Last year, Congressman Cuellar spoke with CBP port directors to address concerns from citizens in his district about the treatment received by agents at our international ports of entry. Congressman Cuellar was successful in adding language to the Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that requires the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection to review training manuals and coursework as well as incident-reporting practices within the agency to making sure that customs and border patrol officers are trained to interact respectfully with those crossing the border.

After the discussions, CBP at the South Texas ports of entry initiated the Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence (PRIDE) initiative, which aims to improve the interaction with agents and civilians at our international ports of entry. Through the initiative, Professionalism Service Managers receive and address both positive and negative comments from the public who interact with CBP at the South Texas Port of Entry.

Congressman Cuellar also included language to have CBP agents use body-worn cameras while on duty.

“Thousands of people legally cross at our international ports of entry daily,” said Congressman Cuellar. “These people are an integral part of our community, family and local economy and deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully by our agents. I look forward to my ongoing partnership with Customs and Border Protection to make sure we bring transparency and fair treatment to the people who are legally crossing our international borders.”

In response to Congressman Cuellar’s language, CBP issued the first of three phases of a study to evaluate the feasibility of incorporating body-worn camera technology into the agency’s law enforcement operations at CBP training academies between October and December of 2014.

The second phase of the study, which ended in May of this year, evaluated the feasibility of body-worn cameras into the agency’s law enforcement operations.

Now, CBP is currently in the third phase of the study and Congressman Cuellar has requested to the Commissioner of CBP that the Laredo Port of Entry be used as a pilot program where agents use the body-worn cameras while conducting daily operations with the public. If approved, the results will be reported back to the House Appropriations Committee.

Congressman Cuellar was also successful in passing language into the FY16 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that would ensure transparency in regards to the treatment of immigrant detainees at ICE family detention centers.

“When considering the funding of the Department of Homeland Security for FY16, I wanted to ensure that there was language that requires transparency with the way ICE treats detainees,” Congressman Cuellar said. “After hearing reports of inappropriate and demeaning treatment of detainees, I made sure that there was a reporting mechanism in the funding bill.”

Within 15 days of enactment, and monthly thereafter, ICE is directed to update the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on family detention oversight activities; assuring that these families and individuals receive the appropriate care while in detention.

Congressman Cuellar also included language to fund the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program to the level for FY15. ATD places low-risk illegal immigrants under various forms of intensive supervision or electronic monitoring, in lieu of detention, to ensure their appearance for immigration hearings and, in some cases, for their removal. The program reduces the number of detainees in detention centers, while also saving taxpayer money on unnecessary costs of detention.

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