TSA identifies 200 agents, including air marshals, who can be sent to U.S.-Mexico border

A TSA official said the DHS has not yet approved the list of 200 employees , but it would not include frontline personnel who deal with airport travelers.
Image:  A TSA agent helps passengers at Salt Lake City International Airport on Jan 16. 2019.
A TSA agent helps passengers at Salt Lake City International Airport on Jan 16. 2019.Rick Bowmer / AP file

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By Julia Ainsley

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration has identified about 200 of its personnel who can be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to combat a surge in immigration.

The deployment of TSA agents — part of a Department of Homeland Security-wide effort to send employees from other parts of the agency to the southwest border — would come during the busy travel season. A spokesperson for the agency said they are working to minimize the impact on air travelers.

"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," the spokesperson said.

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A TSA official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the DHS has not yet approved the list of 200 employees identified, but that it would not include any frontline personnel who deal with travelers at airports.

Instead, the TSA would send lawyers, immigration specialists, and personnel who can help with meal prep and wellness checks, the official said.

The deployment would also include air marshals to help with security. Typically air marshals respond to security threats on planes and in airports, carrying firearms to respond to emergencies.

The TSA employees would not have direct contact with immigrants, the official said.

CNN was first to report that hundreds of TSA employees, including air marshals, could be deployed to the border.

NBC News previously reported that DHS was soliciting volunteers from its components, which include the TSA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to respond to the influx of migrants crossing the southern border.

More than 100,000 undocumented immigrants, many of whom are seeking asylum from violence in Central America, crossed into the United States from Mexico in March and April.