According to documents obtained by CNN, the Transportation Security Administration will send as many as 400 workers to the border between the U.S. and Mexico because of an “immediate need for more help from TSA at the SW border.” The U.S. Department Homeland Security agency insists that the move will not affect security operations at airports across the country.
CNN is reporting that the TSA has committed to sending security personnel to the U.S. Southern border in an effort to help with what is increasingly being framed as an illegal immigration crisis. According to internal documents obtained by the network, the TSA will send as many as 175 law enforcement officers, including members of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) and up to 400 “security ops” officers to help contain a record number of illicit border crossings.
The unusual deployment is expected to commence just as this year’s traditional summer travel season kicks off. The TSA has stated publicly, however, that redeploying resources to the southern border will not in any way impede security operations at U.S. airports. In a press statement, the TSA said it was “soliciting volunteers to support this effort while minimizing operational impact.”
According to the emails from TSA senior management official Gary Renfrow, the TSA could commit hundreds of employees to border control efforts in the coming months. The volunteer deployments are expected to last between 45 to 60 days initially, but are subject to being extended as conditions warrant.
“There is now immediate need for more help from TSA at the SW border,” Renfrow wrote in the email to TSA employees first reported by CNN. “TSA has committed to support with 400 people from Security Ops. We also understand that we are accepting some risk as we enter a very busy summer.”
According to the internal documents, the postings are not currently being offered to airport screeners, but will instead be offered to FAMS members and officers currently assigned to the agency’s security operations units. USA Today reports that TSA workers detailed to border control duties will perform similar functions to that of active duty military personnel currently at the border. Rather than law enforcement duties, the TSA employees will be tasked with jobs such as meal preparation or constructing barriers.
The TSA insists that lending help to other federal agencies during a crisis has a long precedent. In written communications, Homeland Security officials likened the effort to previous pledges to provide TSA manpower in the aftermath of hurricanes or other natural disasters.
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