Watchdog: CBP money meant for food, medical care for migrants was spent on ATVs, dirt bikes

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spent some of the $112 million appropriated to the agency for food and medical care for migrants on ATVs, dirt bikes and boats, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Thursday.

The report came after the House Homeland Security Committee asked the GAO to audit how the agency spent emergency funding allocated to it last year under a border funding bill.

The bill was passed when asylum-seekers were flooding CBP processing centers, where many of them are still being held and have reported poor conditions.

“At the Trump Administration’s request, Congress passed emergency funding legislation last year to help address the humanitarian crisis at the border largely created by this Administration and consistently made worse with repeated politically charged, anti-immigrant policies,” Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. 

“Instead of helping migrants and improving conditions on the ground, CBP then broke the law by spending this taxpayer money on things that were not authorized—such as ATVs, dirt bikes, and computer systems,” he added.

The GAO recommended CBP adjust their books to switch over expenses to the proper categories. They did not specify how much of the funds were misallocated. 

“If CBP lacks sufficient budget authority to make the adjustments, then it should report a violation of the Antideficiency Act as required by law,” the report reads.  

A CBP spokesperson told The Hill the violations were “technical in nature” and would be adjusted.

“As the opinion notes, CBP charged a small subset of expenses in fiscal year 2019 to the incorrect account. We are working to itemize all such expenses, and correct our accounts as recommend by the GAO,” they said. “We emphasize that (and GAO’s opinion does not suggest otherwise) all of CBP’s obligations were for lawful objects related to agency operations and the care of those in our custody; the violations identified are technical in nature and prompt remedial action will be taken.”

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