The FBI lost track of more than 60 foreign cooperators in the U.S. after sponsoring them to aid in investigations, according to a report released Tuesday by the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Office of Inspector General.
In addition, the watchdog's audit identified 1,000 DOJ-sponsored foreign nationals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was not provided information on in February 2018. By that August it was still seeking information from DOJ on 665.
While DHS facilitates the cooperators' entries into the U.S., the DOJ takes custody of them once they are in the country.
“We believe that all DOJ components need to improve their execution of the responsibilities integral to the sponsorship programs, including enhancing the policies for monitoring the locations and activities of sponsored foreign nationals and the management information systems used within the program,” the report says.
The 62 people that absconded included both “benign” absconsions by foreign nationals who simply failed to notify their sponsoring agent of a move and “deliberate” ones by people purposely evading law enforcement. The report does not specify how many of each it identified.
The OIG found 22 cases of people who absconded without the DOJ notifying the DHS until a 2018 review.
In another 18 cases, the DOJ let foreign nationals’ sponsorship lapse, which put them at risk for being detained and deported while the DOJ was still using them for investigations, according to the report.
To address such issues going forward, the report states, the DOJ should ensure the DEA and FBI take all necessary steps to help DHS located absconded people, as well as developing compliance processes for DHS reporting requirements.
The department should also “institute a more efficient process to resolve DHS’s existing unresolved sponsorship matters and ensure that any future sponsorship matters needing resolution are addressed expeditiously,” the report states.