TSA Director Accused of Fraud, Waste for Unlawfully Deploying Assets to Mexican Border
The head of the federal agency created after 9/11 to protect the nation’s transportation system is accused of fraud, waste, and abuse of authority for unlawfully deploying assets to the Mexican border to perform duties unrelated to transportation, according to a report filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General. In the formal complaint to the DHS watchdog, the Air Marshal National Council, which represents thousands of Federal Air Marshals (FAM) nationwide, accuses Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske and FAM Director Tirrell Stevenson of violating federal law and overstepping their authority for assigning the highly trained aviation security specialists to assist the U.S. Border Patrol with the illegal immigration crisis. FAM operates under TSA and both function under DHS.
“The TSA personnel are being sent to El Paso TX, San Diego CA, Laredo TX, McAllen TX, Tucson AZ, and Yuma AZ,” the complaint states, adding that internal agency documents reveal the “highly skilled FAMs” are being sent to the southwest border to perform “Hospital Watch, Transportation, Law Enforcement Searches, Welfare Checks, and Entry Control.” The duties have no relation to TSA’s core mission of transportation security, the filing says, and instead the air marshals will assist migrants who have crossed the border into the United States. TSA was created after 2001 to help prevent another terrorist attack, though the agency is famous for its lapses, including a big one just days ago when a man was allowed to board a plane in Cincinnati with two box cutters. FAM is charged with protecting commercial passenger flights by deterring and countering the risk of terrorist activity. At the very least it seems like a waste to send the highly trained law enforcement agents to the border to babysit illegal immigrants.
“The statute does not give the Administrator any authority to deploy TSA or FAM employees to the southern border to perform non transportation security related matters,” the complaint to the DHS IG states. “Further, under section (g) the statute describes what the Administrators authority is if an emergency, as defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security, is declared.” The act makes clear that the legislative intent is to only allow TSA to exercise authority and deploy its assets for transportation security, the report to the DHS watchdog confirms. “To date Mr. Pekoske nor Mr. Stevenson have declared the deployments to be related to transportation security,” according to the complaint. Furthermore, the duties, “Hospital Watch, Entry Control, Law Enforcement searches, and Transportation,” could not be interpreted to have any nexus to the TSA core mission of transportation security. Additionally, the document notes that Congress has not appropriated any funds in the TSA budget for border security, making any money expended for the cause a violation of the Antideficiency Act which prohibits federal employees from obligating funds unless Congress has approved the amount and purpose of the spending.
A few weeks ago Judicial Watch obtained the DHS memorandum to the nation’s air marshal force announcing that officers would soon be sent to the southern border to help deal with “a surge in irregular migration.” The notice states that “the unprecedented volume of Noncitizen Migrants (NCMs) currently apprehended mandates immediate further action to protect the life and safety of federal personnel and noncitizens in CBP [Customs and Border Protection] custody.” It is the first acknowledgment, albeit leaked involuntarily, by the Biden administration that there is indeed a crisis along the nation’s famously porous southern border. “To support its mission, CBP is seeking federal employees from DHS Components and other federal agencies to be placed on reimbursable TDY assignments to assist in critical support functions,” the widely circulated mandate reads, adding that “LE/FAMS has been directed by DHS to support this request.” Air marshals interviewed by Judicial Watch expressed outrage that they are being pulled from their critical inflight security duties to assist with the mayhem created by the Biden administration’s failed immigration policies.