Immigration officials were given money for medical care and food for migrants. They spent it on ATVs, dirt bikes, and boats instead.
U.S. Customs and Border Guard (CBP) officers use ATVs to guard the Mexico border wall in San Diego County, California from the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico on December 2, 2018.
Reuters / Adrees Latif
The Customs and Border Protection Agency spent funds on humanitarian aid for items such as off-road vehicles and dirt bikes, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
Congress provided approximately $ 112 million for "supplies and medical care," and the GAO found that many of CBP's spending did not meet these criteria.
CBP admitted it miscalculated some of its spending and said it is taking action immediately.
Last year's Congress funding was amidst an unprecedented increase in asylum seekers that exceeded the CBP's ability to arrest them and led to unfortunate conditions and even death in border guards.
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According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, immigration officials from the Customs and Border Protection Agency have misused funds for humanitarian aid to migrants and instead spent them on their dog program and items such as boats, ATVs and dirt bikes.
Last year, in response to an increase in asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border, Congress passed a $ 4.6 billion law to fund both increased border security and support for migrant prisoners. The number of migrants seeking asylum in the United States quickly exceeded the CBP's ability to detain them, leading to overcrowding, unfortunate conditions and even the death of migrant children.
As part of the funding law, Congress provided approximately $ 112 million specifically for "consumables and medical care" for migrants. According to the GAO, CBP used part of this money correctly - also for items such as hygiene products, food and clothing.
Some of this money also went into unrelated expenses, including the CBP dog program, a vaccination program for CBP employees, computer network upgrades, and vehicles such as dirt bikes and ATVs.
These articles have not been classified as "consumables and medical care," the GAO report said.
A U.S. Customs and Border Guard patrols his ATV along the main fence on the Mexico-United States international border near San Diego, California, March 26, 2013. Photo taken on March 26, 2013.
Reuters / Mike Blake
"CBP has neither attempted nor attempted to link these commitments to the use of consumables and medical care," the GAO report said. "Since CBP has not shown a reasonable link between these commitments and the consumables and medical supply lines and we do not see it otherwise, we conclude that CBP has violated the special purpose law and should adjust its accounts."
The agency said in a statement that the violations were "technical in nature" and that the agency intended to take action to remedy the situation.
"CBP charged the wrong amount on a small subset of expenses in fiscal 2019. We're working to list all of these expenses and correct our accounts in accordance with GAO recommendations," the agency said in a statement to NBC News. "We emphasize that, and the GAO's opinion does not suggest otherwise, all of CBP's commitments to lawful matters related to agency operations and the care of those in our care."
The Congress Democrats immediately condemned the CBP's expenditure and accused the agency of violating the law by misusing the funds.
"Instead of helping migrants and improving local conditions, CBP went against the law by spending that tax money on things that weren't authorized - like off-road vehicles, dirt bikes, and computer systems," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, the democratic Chair of the Internal Security Committee said in a statement. "This persistent disregard for the law is yet another example of how this government continues to fail to fulfill its duty to provide humane conditions and medical care to migrants in its care."
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