Republican members of the House Oversight Committee have launched a probe into the alleged efforts made by the Homeland Security Department to obstruct oversight investigations connected to the southern border led by the Office of the Inspector General. This particularly refers to a memo that advises the employees on how they can avoid submitting documents to the agency’s watchdog.
In a letter addressed to Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS Secretary, Republican lawmakers pointed out their concerns regarding the internal memo. According to them, the memo allegedly advised employees about “how to impede OIG investigations.”
“We write to investigate efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to obstruct oversight by the department's Office of Inspector General. According to recent reports, DHS is advising employees on how to impede OIG oversight, including how to avoid turning over documents and systems access to the OIG,” the lawmakers wrote.
They also stated that if reports were factual, “DHS leadership is deliberately undermining the OIG’s mission,” which is to “provide independent oversight to promote excellence, integrity and accountability within DHS.”
The said memo the lawmakers were citing was reportedly circulated among employees in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prepare for a meeting with DHS OIG personnel.”Essentially, the memo encouraged CBP employees to resist the OIG’s request for access to CBP systems. More alarming, CBP’s memo included flawed legal analyses—apparently sanctioned by DHS Office of General Counsel—to justify withholding information from the OIG,” the letter added.
“This memo undermines the OIG’s statutory mandate to have ‘timely access to all records, reports, audits, reviews, documents, papers, recommendations, or other materials,' from DHS’s programmatic components,” it continued.
The GOP lawmakers also pointed out that the said department's secretary “may only prevent the OIG from pursuing oversight in very limited situations to preserve national security where such an exception is issued by the Secretary in writing and reported to Congress.”
“We have received no report that you have invoked such an exception during your tenure,” the lawmakers added.
Currently, DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari is auditing and looking into the “effects” of Pres. The GOP lawmakers wrote that Joe Biden’s administration and its border policies have “created a dangerous, chaotic and inhumane border.”
“We are concerned DHS’s efforts to obstruct OIG oversight is targeted to CBP program areas,” they mentioned, noting that CBP employees remain on the “frontlines of the border crisis.”
“Therefore, DHS OIG must have access to these employees and CBP systems so it can accurately assess the Biden administration’s decisions and execution of the law regarding our southern border,” the letter went on.
“In light of the growing catastrophe along the southern border, DHS’s obstruction is particularly troubling,” they wrote. “Rather than committing time and resources to deny information to the OIG, DHS should be dedicating resources to protecting the southern border.”
The lawmakers also asked for documents and communications related to DHS’s “efforts to deny the DHS OIG access to information needed to conduct its audits and investigations.”
Over a dozen Republicans, including House Oversight Committee ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), signed the letter. The other Republican House Members who signed the said letter include Reps. Andy Biggs, Byron Donalds, Jody Hice, and Jim Jordan.