Globally, alien smuggling generates billions of dollars in illicit revenues annually and poses a threat to the nation's security. Creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March 2003 has provided an opportunity to use financial investigative techniques to combat alien smugglers by targeting and seizing their monetary assets. For instance, the composition of DHS's largest investigative component--U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)--includes the legacy Customs Service, which has extensive experience with money laundering and other financial crimes. Another DHS component, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has primary responsibility for interdictions between ports of entry. In summer 2003, ICE announced that it was developing a national strategy for combating alien smuggling. Among other objectives, GAO determined the implementation status of the strategy and investigative results in terms of convictions and seized assets.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Homeland Security||To enhance the federal response to alien smuggling, the Secretary of Homeland Security should establish a cost-effective mechanism for tracking the number and results of referrals by CBP to ICE.|
|Department of Justice||To enhance the federal response to alien smuggling, the Attorney General, in collaboration with the Secretary of Homeland Security, should consider developing and submitting to Congress a legislative proposal, with appropriate justification, for amending the civil forfeiture authority for real property used to facilitate the smuggling of aliens.|