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.