According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) needs to address its data collection practices regarding border fencing in order to assess what contributions it makes to the agency’s overall mission.
The report’s publication comes in the wake of an Executive Order by President Trump that directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “identify and, to the extent permitted by law, allocate all sources of federal funds for the planning, designing, and constructing of a physical wall along the southern border.”
GAO was asked to commission the report in order to examine border fencing’s intended contributions to overall border security and the flow of illegal migrants into the United States.
The report found that CBP had not yet developed metrics to assess the contributions border fencing makes to its mission, such as determining the extent to which border fencing diverts illegal entrants into more rural and remote environments as well as the fence’s impact on apprehension rates over time.
The report also found that CBP must address issues related to the maintenance of roads owned or operated by other public and private entities that may cross the fence’s intended path. GAO additionally found that some officials within the agency lacked the guidance necessary to identify, fund, and deploy the infrastructure in the planning process.
GAO said that developing metrics to assess the contributions fencing could make could better position CBP to make resource allocation decisions in order to inform mission priorities and investments.
GAO recommended that DHS to develop guidance for its processes in identifying, funding, and deploying fencing for border security operations, along with assessing the extent to which a fence could contribute to the department’s mission.