Department of Homeland Security Complaint Process

July 5, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions about DHS Complaint Processes

Q: What type of Complaints doe the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) review and assess?

A: The CRCL reviews and addresses complaints involving abuses of civil rights and civil liberties by employees and officials of all of the Department of Homeland Security components, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration, and other components. Complaints may cover issues such as discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, or disability; violation of rights while in immigration detention or as a subject of immigration enforcement; discrimination or inappropriate questioning related to entry into the United States, violation of the right to due process, such as the right to timely notice of charges or access to a lawyer; violation of the Violence Against Women Act’s confidentiality requirements; physical abuse or any other type of abuse; any other civil rights, civil liberties, or human rights violation related to a DHS program or activity.

Q: Can I file a complaint anonymously, or on behalf of someone else?

A: Yes. If you are filing a complaint with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, or just within Customs and Border Protection, you can file a complaint on behalf of someone else, or anonymously. You must provide express written consent from that individual authorizing DHS to share information with you about the complaint. You must also provide your name, organization (if any), and contact information. In addition, a third party may file a complaint with CBP and ICE. Information about the third party complainant is required. If the complaint is anonymous, DHS will not be able to provide follow-up information, and will have limited ability to investigate.

Q: Will I receive damages or other remedies?

A: No. Filing a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security is not the same as filing a lawsuit. A lawsuit is a civil action brought in a court of law where one seeks remedy for a loss incurred as a result of the actions of the Defendant. While DHS may ultimately discipline the agents involved or institute a new policy related to your complaint, privacy laws generally prevent them from informing you of those details. However, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties does release aggregate reports about the complaints they have reviewed and the issues that were raised, which are available at:

http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/gc_1266873528670.shtm#1

Q: What will happen if I file a complaint about an ICE or CBP Agent with the Joint Intake Center?

A: The Joint Intake Center (JIC) may work with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on a complaint investigation, but does not currently have any process for communicating with the complainant about receipt or resolution of their complaint.

Q: I don’t know which office I should submit my complaint to. What should I do?

A: The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has the most structured process for reviewing complaints and will refer your complaint to the proper component if it is not retained by them. In addition, the CRCL is the most transparent and will notify the complainant throughout the process. If confused about filing a complaint about CBP directly with them or with the Joint Intake Center, the best option would probably be to file it with CBP directly. The new CBP process includes a response mechanism that is not apparent with the JIC. In addition, if you file directly with CBP and the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the JIC, your complaint will be transferred there and you will be notified by CBP.

Q: Where can I find more information and submit my complaint?

A: For more information and to submit your complaint, please visit the following:

  • To file a complaint with the CRCL, please visit:

http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/structure/crcl.shtm

  • To file a complaint about CBP or ICE with the Joint Intake Center, please contact intake@dhs.gov
  • To file a complaint directly with CBP, please visit:

https://help.cbp.gov/app/forms/complaint

  • To file a complaint with the DOJ, please visit:

http://www.justice.gov/actioncenter/complaint.html

  • To file a travel-related complaint directly through TRIP, please visit:

https://www.dhs.gov/trip