CBP Whistleblower Alleges ‘Problematic Practices’ and ‘Substandard’ Health Care for Migrants in Custody

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
December 1, 2023US News
CBP Whistleblower Alleges ‘Problematic Practices’ and ‘Substandard’ Health Care for Migrants in Custody
Illegal immigrants wait in along the border wall to board a bus after surrendering to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on May 12, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

A senior Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employee turned whistleblower is alleging years of “problematic practices” in the agency’s treatment of migrants under detention at the border.

In a letter sent to Congress on Nov. 30 by the Government Accountability Project, an advocacy group, on behalf of Troy Hendrickson, the CBP employee detailed the alleged failures of the agency’s medical contractor, Loyal Source Government Services.

Mr. Hendrickson, a 15-year CBP veteran, said the actions of the medical contractor—the sole provider of medical care for people under CBP custody—were “compounded by the unwillingness of the CBP contracting office” to hold it accountable for its alleged failures and ensure oversight.

According to its official website, Loyal Source Government Services is a Florida-based company focusing on government health care, technical and support services, engineering, and travel health care.

The letter to Congress states that Mr. Hendrickson was assigned to work with the CBP Office of the Chief Medical Officer (OCMO) as a Contracting Officer Representative, beginning in August of 2021.

During this time, he “immediately raised concerns internally regarding problematic practices he witnessed, including unfit medical providers, severe understaffing, privacy breaches, and a failure to report sexual harassment in a CBP medical facility,” according to the letter.

The negligence, according to Mr. Hendrickson, resulted in “substandard” health care for migrants held in CBP custody.

“Mr. Hendrickson’s complaints, made with the support of OCMO leadership, went largely ignored and unaddressed by the CBP Office of Acquisition, the entity with authority to hold Loyal Source to the terms of the Medical Services Contract,” the letter said.

“Despite his multiple requests over several months to take corrective action, such as issuing mandated performance appraisals and sending a remedial notice known as a ‘cure letter’ instructing Loyal Source to fix their performance problems, the Contracting Office consistently refused to hold the contractor accountable,” the letter stated.

Whistleblower Suffered Retaliation

Mr. Hendrickson further states that officials from CBP retaliated against him for raising the alleged problems by removing him from his position and preventing him from working on any future CBP medical contracts.

Nearly a year after Mr. Hendrickson allegedly raised his concerns, in May 2023, eight-year-old Anadith Reyes Alvarez, a Panamanian girl with sickle cell anemia and congenital heart disease, died at a CBP facility in Harlingen, Texas, after being detained by border officials.

An independent report later found that the young girl’s death could have been prevented and that she was denied repeated requests for care.

Mr. Hendrickson’s letter said the young girl’s death was due to “avoidable medical negligence” by Loyal Source Personnel.

The whistleblower is urging Congress to ensure thorough and prompt oversight of Loyal Source’s alleged ongoing failures to comply with mandated medical care of migrants in CBP custody.

He is also calling for increased oversight into the CBP contracting office’s “gross mismanagement, gross waste of taxpayer dollars, and abuse of authority in its refusal to hold Loyal Source accountable for the company’s contract performance failures.”

Congress must also ensure that Mr. Hendrickson and any other current or former CBP or Loyal Source employees who turn whistleblower are not subjected to retaliation, the letter stated.

“Today we and our client, Mr. Troy Hendrickson, demand accountability for the years of dangerous underperformance of the CBP medical contractor and the alarming lack of oversight of CBP’s critical mandate to provide medical services to noncitizens in the agency’s custody,” Government Accountability Project Immigration Counsel Andrea Meza said in a statement.

NTD Photo
Texas Army National Guard look on as illegal immigrants board a bus after surrendering to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol agents for immigration and asylum claim processing following the end of Title 42 on the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on May 12, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Medical Contractor Received ‘Millions’ of Taxpayer Dollars

“The CBP Office of Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Services Contract were created in direct response to an ongoing pattern of deaths of children in CBP custody. It is unconscionable that when the contractor, receiving millions of taxpayer dollars, failed to meet OCMO’s medical standards, contracting officials refused at every turn to hold the contractor to account and instead retaliated against Mr. Hendrickson,” Ms. Meza continued.

Loyal Source Government Services received a $25 million-per-month contract from the CBP, according to The Washington Post.

“Mr. Hendrickson has been sounding the alarm within CBP and to multiple oversight entities for years, and had his warnings been heeded, Anadith Reyes Alvarez might be alive today. It is long past time for Congress and federal oversight entities to take action so that no other family will suffer the loss of their child due to medical negligence in CBP custody,” the letter concluded.

Responding to the letter, a CBP spokesperson told Forbes that the agency “takes its obligations to investigate whistleblower allegations seriously,” and “remains committed to ensuring that contract oversight—and the procurement process writ large—are conducted correctly.”

The spokesperson added that the health and safety of migrants in CBP custody is “a top priority” and that the agency has taken a number of “significant steps” to improve care and decrease the amount of time migrants spend in CBP custody, including via new leadership into the Office of the Chief Medical Officer.

Elsewhere, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a Nov. 30 statement that the whistleblower’s allegations raise “serious concerns.”

“These systemic failures to conduct proper oversight of its contractor severely impacted the quality of medical care available to individuals in CBP’s custody, endangering vulnerable migrants such as Anadith Danay Reyes Álvarez,” the lawmaker said.

The Democrat vowed to investigate the issue further and take steps as needed to better “protect migrants in government custody.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Loyal Source Government Services for further comment.

From The Epoch Times

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