A Senate Republican, citing whistleblowers, said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was reassigning personnel from public safety areas to do “menial” tasks coping with illegal immigration at the United States-Mexico border
In a Nov. 29 Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs hearing, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) questioned Richard Cline, the Director of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) under DHS, regarding the reassignment of FPS officers to the southern border amid the persistent surge in illegal immigration.
The senator expressed concern over critical issues such as child abuse, child trafficking, and fentanyl investigations being sidelined due to officers being redirected to address immigration challenges.
Mr. Hawley raised the issue of DHS whistleblowers reporting that special investigators within the department were pulled from their assignments of investigating serious crimes like child abuse and trafficking. Instead, these investigators were allegedly reassigned to perform what they deemed to be menial tasks related to processing migrants at the southern border. Mr. Hawley sought clarification on whether FPS officers, responsible for protecting federal facilities, had also been reassigned to assist with migrant processing.
“I just want to know what any FPS officers, to your knowledge been reassigned to the southern border to help with migrant processing?”
Mr. Cline confirmed that FPS officers have indeed been deployed to the southern border to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Their role includes transporting individuals to medical appointments, hospitals, and emergency rooms, allowing Border Patrol agents to focus on their primary duties.
“Yes, sir. We do have a number of FPS officers that are supporting CBP at the southern border into locations,” Mr. Cline said. “And that’s going on today.”
Mr. Hawley sought details on the origin of these officers, questioning whether they were taken from federal facility protection responsibilities elsewhere in the country.
Mr. Cline explained that FPS officers come from various locations across the country, citing examples such as Boston and Chicago. He emphasized that the goal is to assist the Border Patrol, reciprocating the support FPS has received in the past when help was needed. While acknowledging the small number of officers involved, Mr. Cline highlighted the cooperative nature of the arrangement.
Mr. Hawley expressed his concern about the reassignment of officers away from critical tasks related to national security. He echoed the sentiments of DHS whistleblowers who claimed to have been diverted from investigations into child exploitation to perform tasks like making sandwiches for illegal migrants. Mr. Hawley characterized this situation as outrageous and criticized the redirection of officers responsible for vital security services.
In response, Mr. Cline reiterated the collaborative nature of supporting Border Patrol and emphasized that FPS is committed to assisting when called upon. He acknowledged the challenges posed by the immigration surge and reaffirmed the need for cooperation between agencies.
The exchange highlighted the tension between addressing immigration challenges and maintaining focus on other critical security issues.
Mr. Hawley underscored the urgency of securing the border while expressing frustration over the redirection of resources from tasks vital to national security. Mr. Cline, while recognizing the concerns raised, defended the FPS’s commitment to supporting fellow agencies during times of need.
“I think that’s important testimony to our decline,” Mr. Hawley said of the reassignments, going on to say that Mr. Cline’s testimony “tracks exactly” with what other officials have said.
The Republican lawmaker again reiterated his frustration that DHS personnel are being “taken off of their assignments” and ”asked to do exactly what you’ve just described.”
Included in the lawmaker’s list of supposedly inappropriate tasks were agents and personnel who were asked to “run people back and forth,” to appointments and “make sandwiches for illegal migrants.”
“I mean, I have to say I think it’s kind of a problem when people aren’t investigating Child Exploitation so they can make sandwiches.”
DHS did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’s request for comment.