TSA Agents are Being Redeployed to Work the Southern Border

Hundreds of TSA staff are being redeployed to work the US border with Mexico. Six unnamed airports will bear the brunt of the staff shortage.

TSA plans for the deployments to involve up to 175 law enforcement officials and as many as “400 people from Security Ops,” according to two sources and the email. At least initially, the efforts will not involve uniformed airport screeners, according to the email, which says that some parts of TSA would be asked to contribute “around 10%” of its workforce.

…”We also understand that we are accepting some risk as we enter a very busy summer,” Renfrow wrote, calling this effort an “additional challenge.”

In the past TSA has claimed to have redeployed extraneous staff to checkpoints, reporting to the White House that they had done so, when in fact they had not. This suggests to me that they still haven’t.

Most of the TSA employees sent to the Mexican border will be “non-screening staff who work for TSA’s federal security directors.”

Staff heading to the border will include ‘VIPR’ teams (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) that show up at transportation facilities other than airports. These are the folks that sometimes appear at subway stops and train stations. Air marshals will also be plucked out of first class and out of airports, where they will no longer be able to leave firearms in airport restrooms, and sent south.

That deployment would result in a decrease of about 8% to federal air marshal operations and a 20% decrease to VIPR patrol operations, according to the source, who said TSA currently has about 31 VIPR teams.

No matter where the employees are coming from, expect delays to stack. And the willingness to make this move of course reflects priorities — and a tacit admission that the threat to US commercial aviation is not as great as the government would often otherwise claim.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is actually a good development for supporters of immigration. The TSA is horrible at any actual screening and will probably let everyone through except for Grandma who will be pulled aside for secondary screening.

  2. Shocker. Another anti-government TSA article. Your comments just comes across so freaking smarmy

  3. As we saw during the government shutdown, TSA checkpoints that become understaffed do less thorough screenings as lower morale spreads. I envision this to happen again if this redeployment were to occur, thereby making our national security more vulnerable in airports (where we know terrorists have tried to enter in the past). While we play whack-a-mole with the symptoms of asylum seeker numbers, the causes of the asylum seeking seem to be under prioritized if not ignored.

  4. 3000-6000 people a day coming across the border every day. We do have to figure out a way to solve this otherwise we will be living in a third world country soon. I suspect the Democratic party’s non-response to this issue will figure into the Trumps 2020 re-election.

  5. @Nick there is something wrong with your math. There is no way that 2.1 million people are entering the country illegally. However, I do agree that Trump is doing his best to destroy this country and turn it into a “shit hole” country.

  6. @Homer hes pointing out the BS about how they are needed to ‘protect’ us. ALL this current administration is interested in is stoking fires of hate to keep power.

  7. @Jake, Not making this up, the numbers actually apprehended are above 3000 per day at the moment. Trump may have caused the crush – but it’s now real.


    The actual number including those not apprehended has to be much higher. I know these are people and need to be treated humanely but this is not good for the future of the country and we do need to deal with it somehow.

  8. @nick no matter what America will never be a third world country.
    What are people afraid of?
    That these immigrants will steal your gardening and daily labor jobs? Your house cleaning jobs?
    Even if illegal they still end up paying taxes from which they derive no benefits.
    Don’t fall for fear mongering.
    This country was built by immigrants but you knew that.,


  9. @Norita there is a big difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration, but you knew that.

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