Trump steps up attacks on 'Squad'
TSA to send hundreds of workers to southern border to enforce immigration policies
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will reportedly send hundreds of employees who normally work airport security to the southern border to help in the enforcement of immigration policies.
The plan surfaced Tuesday during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing intended to address reports from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general and Government Accountability Office about vulnerabilities in airport security, according to The Washington Post.
The hearing was also meant to address whether President Trump's push to secure the border had caused these vulnerabilities to go unresolved, the newspaper added.
The committee's chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said during the hearing that hundreds of TSA workers had already been diverted to the U.S.-Mexico border, and that an additional 300 would soon be deployed.
A TSA spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that 349 agency employees have already been deployed to the border to assist Customs and Border Protection, and that 88 of those are Transportation Security officers.
The Post reported that the move is the result of an order from the White House.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske told the committee that the move would have "no effect on aviation security."
"Border security is national security," he said, according to the Post. "This is a crisis. I have to balance off the risk at the southern border with the need to keep airports staffed."
A TSA spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the department requested volunteers from across its workforce to "assist in humanitarian efforts" at the border.
"Volunteers will support functions including transportation, distribution of meals, personal property management, and legal support," the spokesperson said.
Cummings criticized the TSA for failing to act on security issues that have been identified in past reports. He also questioned why the Trump administration was ordering TSA employees to the border.
"Let me put this quite starkly: On the one hand TSA has dozens of security vulnerabilities that have languished for years, but the Trump administration is asking Congress for 700 more TSA screeners to handle huge increases in air travel," Cummings said. "Yet, on the other hand, the Trump administration is taking more than 350 of these critical TSA employees, diverting them away from their primary responsibilities ... and sending them to the southern border."
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking Republican on the committee, dismissed Cummings's concerns about why the TSA was sending its workers to the southern border.
"The chairman is asking why the administration is sending TSA personnel to the border? Because there's a crisis," Jordan said.
Cummings' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
--Updated at 5:21 p.m.