The Transportation Security Administration is stepping in to aid the Department of Homeland Security in dealing with the escalating immigration crisis at the border.
The agency is reportedly planning to send hundreds of officials to the southern U.S. border, including up to 175 law enforcement officials and about “400 people from Security Ops,” according to a report by CNN.
While uniformed airport screeners do not appear to be initially involved, a few hundred officials including department attorneys and potentially some air marshals could contribute to the workforce, CNN reported.
“There is now immediate need for more help from TSA at the SW border,” Gary Renfrow, a senior TSA official, told agency regional management in an email obtained by the network. “TSA has committed to support with 400 people from Security Ops” who will be deployed in waves “similar to support for past hurricanes.”
“We also understand that we are accepting some risk as we enter a very busy summer,” Renfrow added, noting the “additional challenge.”
— USBPChief (@USBPChief) May 10, 2019
“TSA, like all DHS components, is supporting the DHS effort to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border. TSA is in the process of soliciting volunteers to support this effort while minimizing operational impact,” TSA spokeswoman Jenny Burke said in a statement.
According to CNN:
The assignment comes as the number of illegal border crossings is spiking, with apprehensions at a 10-year high. Some 4,300 active duty and National Guard troops are currently assisting on the border, the acting defense secretary said recently, and Customs and Border Protection shifted 750 of its own officers to assignments with Border Patrol last month. Before her ouster as Homeland Security secretary last month, Kirstjen Nielsen asked for volunteers within the ranks of DHS employees, including TSA, “to assist CBP and ICE in responding to the emergency at the southern border.”
Uniformed patrols by Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, or VIPR, teams, will also reportedly be employed at transportation centers like airports and train stations. The TSA has about 31 VIPR teams currently, a source told CNN.
The email indicated that the move could last between 45 and 60 days, “although it could be longer.”
The U.S.-Mexico border has seen a spike in illegal border crossings, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection reporting over half a million border apprehensions in the last few months.
“This crisis is much bigger than what we faced back then, and we need Congress’ help,” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan told “Fox & Friends” in an interview from the southern border along with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Watch our @foxandfriends exclusive: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan discuss strategy to secure the border during a tour of the Rio Grande Valley Sector. pic.twitter.com/SThIXU2suV
— Brian Kilmeade (@kilmeade) May 15, 2019
Shanahan noted that President Trump demanded results in a recent discussion on the border crisis.
“‘Deliver more. The situation is extreme. Fix it,’” he said the president had stated.
“That’s why we’re here. We understand that there’s never been a lack of commitment to fixing it. It’s just with these trends and the increases, it’s getting worse,” he added.
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