Complaints about border employee conduct, discrimination increased as Trump took office

Trump on border security

Complaints against U.S. Customs and Border Protection about employee conduct, discrimination, frequent searches and fines and detention increased in the first six months of the Trump administration, compared to the same time period in 2016, according to new data obtained by CBS News.

Complaints and comments about employee conduct were up by 16 percent in the first six months of 2017, according to CBP. Discrimination complaints increased by 8 percent.

"CBP takes any allegation of misconduct seriously, and if warranted, the allegation will be referred for appropriate investigative and/or disciplinary action," a CBP spokesperson said. "When that occurs CBP acts decisively and appropriately. Misconduct is not tolerated."


Chris Rickerd, policy counsel for the ACLU's National Political Advocacy Department, said the Trump administration's aggressive approach on border security permitted "shortcuts" by officers at U.S. borders.

"Some of these shortcuts have led to abuse and misconduct," Rickerd said.

For the first six months of 2017, the agency also counted 289 comments about the president's Jan. 27 executive order on "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry to the U.S." which temporarily denied entry to the U.S. to foreign nationals of seven predominantly-Muslim countries including Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the administration's revised travel ban.

"It comes as no surprise that CBP is engaged in a pattern of conduct that infringes on the rights of travelers CBP agents come into contact with," said Gaddeir Abbas, an attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has sued the federal government over the ban.

CBP counted another 11 comments about the executive order on "Border Security/Border Wall." The president issued the order January 25, to increase security along the U.S.-Mexico border and direct  "the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border."

Meanwhile, the president continues his push for the wall and hardline immigration enforcement.

Mr. Trump tweeted Monday morning: "Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL"

CBP did, however, count 1,048 compliments in the first half of 2017 compared to 771 in the same time frame the year before. Complaints about denied entry, search authority, long lines and poor staffing were also down.

The information for complaints about the CBP's Office of Field Operations was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

CBP receives complaints from travelers through an Online Comment Card Program, and by phone and verbally which are recorded on an Complaint Information Data sheet.

CBP says all air, land and sea travelers who are subjected to a personal search are issued an online comment card.

The agency also reviews, tracks and responds to complaints and compliments through its CBP INFO Center.

Mitchell Felan contributed to this report.