DHS to divert air marshals to border to manage surge in migrant crossings: report

DHS to divert air marshals to border to manage surge in migrant crossings: report
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reportedly begun reassigning federal agents from airports to the U.S.–Mexico border in order to help manage the surge of migrants attempting to cross into the United States.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has requested hundreds of volunteers to send to the border to help transport migrants, hand out meals and provide legal aid.

A Homeland Security official reportedly told the paper that some of the agents will come from the Federal Air Marshal Service and from the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team. Such agents typically provide security, undercover, at airports and on airplanes, four department officials told the paper.

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The volunteers who are reassigned reportedly make up less than 1 percent of the TSA's 60,000 employees, according to the Times. The group will not include agents who conduct airport security screenings.

“The department is considering all options to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” DHS Acting Assistant Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton told the Times. “We will continue to work with our work force to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem."

Homeland security officials reportedly told the paper that the reassignments have raised concerns about longer waiting periods for commercial vehicles at ports of entry, as well as fears of security risks going unmonitored. 

The Hill has reached out to DHS and TSA for comment. 

The Times noted that DHS in recent months has sent Coast Guard teams and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who usually conduct criminal probes to the border amid a surge in migrants crossing into the U.S. The Coast Guard is part of DHS.

Last month saw more than 98,900 migrants cross into the U.S., according to federal statistics. Customs and Border Protection officials detained 109,144 migrants at the southern border, marking the highest number in more than a decade.