By Zolan Kanno-Youngs
May 15, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security has pulled federal agents from airports, from legal border crossings and from deep inside the United States and reassigned them to the southwestern border to grapple with a surge of incoming migrants.
The Transportation Security Administration requested a few hundred volunteers to deploy to the border to transport migrants, distribute meals and provide legal support, a department official said on Wednesday. The agents, some of whom will come from the Federal Air Marshal Service and from the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team, usually provide security at airports and on airplanes while undercover, according to four department officials.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the specifics of the reorganization of security personnel.
It was the latest attempt by the Department of Homeland Security to support overwhelmed Border Patrol agents by diverting to the border officials who provide security elsewhere in the country.
As the number of migrants crossing the southwestern border has increased in recent months, the agency has sent in Coast Guard teams and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who typically conduct criminal investigations. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has requested — and received — military assistance.
The moves have stoked concerns that security risks could go unmonitored, as well as concerns about longer wait times for commercial vehicles at ports of entry, according to two of the homeland security officials.