Watchdog sues DHS for withholding information on CBP One phone app

A government watchdog has sued the Biden administration for all information related to the Department of Homeland Security’s expansion of the CBP One app to admit immigrants from outside the United States following a Washington Examiner investigation.

Nonprofit Center to Advance Security in America filed a complaint against DHS this week after its owner said the federal government failed twice to adhere to federal laws that mandate it respond to Freedom of Information Act requests last summer.

“We just think that the American public deserves to see not only the conversations between DHS officials regarding this but also the media and also any sort of outside organization that we know advises them on things like this,” CASA Director James Fitzpatrick said in a phone call this week. “We want to see, you know, did this idea come from someone at DHS or did it come from an outside group.”

The app is run through the DHS agency U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which enforces the nation’s immigration, trade, and border laws. The app was created before the Biden administration to allow for commercial truck drivers to submit manifests digitally before arriving at a port of entry for inspection.

However, the CBP One app was expanded in January 2023 to allow immigrants who traveled to northern Mexico to request an appointment with a U.S. customs officer at the border to see if they are eligible for admission under parole or other lawful pathways.

The move was meant to deter immigrants from illegally walking across the border, but an investigation into the app by the Washington Examiner last July revealed that security shortfalls allow users to overpower the technology’s geolocation parameters and request appointments from anywhere in the world.

By being able to request an appointment, they can migrate to the United States knowing they will not have to wait weeks to months to schedule one only once they get to northern Mexico.

The large majority of the roughly 1,400 immigrants who obtain appointments with customs officers each day are paroled into the U.S. and allowed to remain for two years despite not meeting the threshold for refugee status or having a visa.

“It seems like it’s being implemented almost purposefully to skirt the law,” Fitzpatrick said.


CASA filed two FOIA requests with the DHS and CBP last August but received minimal information.

The nonprofit watchdog chose to sue in early May after exceeding the 75-day threshold to lodge a complaint in court over the federal government’s failure to respond.

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