- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and federal air marshals are supporting Border Patrol in handling the overwhelming illegal immigration surge in the Tucson sector of Arizona, multiple federal officials told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- There were 17,500 apprehensions of illegal migrants in the Tucson sector, alone, last week, the sector’s Border Patrol Chief said.
- “They’re helping with transport [of illegal immigrants] and security of overflow area, absolutely nothing related to HSI work, 100% babysitting,” a Border Patrol agent, who requested anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly, told the DCNF.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents and air marshals from across the country are helping Border Patrol handle the latest surge in illegal immigration in Arizona’s Tucson sector of the southern border instead of stopping crime, multiple federal officials told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A migrant surge in the Tucson sector has overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, who have seen the cancellation of training exercises, a checkpoint closure, a port of entry closure and the temporary shut-down of some social media, according to internal agency communications recently obtained by the DCNF. Air marshals and HSI agents are helping pick up the slack that Border Patrol can’t address due to the surge and a lack of resources, two Border Patrol agents and a federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the situation told the DCNF.
One Border Patrol agent familiar with the situation said HSI is essentially “babysitting” all day.
“They’re helping with transport [of illegal immigrants] and security of overflow area, absolutely nothing related to HSI work, 100% babysitting,” the agent, who requested anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly, told the DCNF, adding that some HSI agents are having to accompany illegal immigrants to the hospital.
A federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the situation confirmed the duties of HSI to the DCNF, which include transportation and watching illegal immigrants in custody in the Tucson sector.
HSI agents are normally tasked with “criminal and civil investigations involving national security threats, terrorism, drug smuggling, child exploitation, human trafficking, illegal arms export, financial crimes, identity fraud, benefit fraud [and] commercial fraud,” according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Border Patrol recorded 17,500 apprehensions of illegal migrants in the Tucson sector last week, alone, according to Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin.
Additionally, Border Patrol agents from the northern and coastal borders of the U.S. have been called in to help virtually process migrants that crossed into the Tucson sector illegally. (RELATED: Despite Closing Multiple Migrant Detention Centers, The Biden Admin Is Asking Congress To Fund More Holding Space)
👀In recent weeks, the border wall in Arizona’s Tucson sector has been graffitied with the words:
“F*ck police Immigracion”
— Jennie Taer 🇮🇱🇺🇸 (@JennieSTaer) November 30, 2023
“This administration doesn’t care about the safety of American people if they are willing to take Air Marshals off flights,” a second agent with familiarity of the situation said.
“When we were working in the field it was nice having extra transport,” the agent said.
Air marshals have been deployed to assist Border Patrol before, including temporarily in 2019, according to Reuters.
At one time, air marshals were plotting a “mutiny” over their deployments to the southern border after being called away from protecting airline passengers, David Londo, president of the Air Marshal National Council, told the Washington Examiner in November 2022. The order reportedly left 1-in-100 domestic flights patrolled by federal agents.
“It’s completely unacceptable to have highly specialized Federal Air Marshals on the border performing humanitarian duties during the busiest travel time of the year. Combine that with the threat environment according to the FBI Director and DHS Secretary being the highest threat ever. We are fighting to stop these deployments,” Londo told the DCNF, adding that his organization filed a complaint with the DHS Inspector General and has been working with Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to press the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
“We filed a complaint with the DHS IG and they are investigating,” he said. “We are also working with Senator Cruz who recently sent TSA a letter demanding they justify these dangerous deployments.”
J.J. Carrell, who served as deputy patrol agent in charge for Border Patrol and had experience working in the Tucson sector, also confirmed the deployments to the DCNF.
“A significant majority of all DHS law enforcement personnel is now the final cog in the smuggling operation, and that’s the truth and it’s frightening, absolutely frightening,” Carrell said.
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley recently called out DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over an HSI whistleblower that spoke to the lawmaker about the issue.
“Special agents who are working on child trafficking cases and fentanyl interdiction cases had been pulled off of their investigations and sent to the southern border,” Hawley said of the whistleblowers statement, adding that the agent said they’re handing out sandwiches and escorting migrants while they shower or sit in the hospital.
A spokesperson for TSA told the DCNF that air marshals are still securing aircrafts around the country.
“Like in 2019 and 2022, Federal Air Marshals temporarily deployed to the Southwest Border in support of our CBP colleagues and we are grateful for their work. The deployment of Federal Air Marshals to execute DHS’ mission at the Southwest Border on a reimbursable basis is temporary. At the same time, our expert Federal Air Marshal Service workforce continues their important work in transportation security,” the spokesperson said.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and DHS didn’t respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from a TSA spokesperson.
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