Homeland Security will transfer up to 2,000 officers away from the ports of entry to assist the Border Patrol, Homeland Security Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday, escalating the all-hands approach to trying to stop the massive illegal immigration surge.
Ms. Nielsen also ordered Customs and Border Protection to speed up its plans to make migrants wait in Mexico while they demand asylum in the U.S.
She said the moves were stopgaps, and the real solutions must come from Capitol Hill.
But they do offer a chance to dent the surge of migrants that is reaching unprecedented levels of children and families.
“We will not stand idly by while Congress fails to act yet again, so all options are on the table,” Ms. Nielsen said in a statement. “We will immediately redeploy hundreds of CBP personnel to the border to respond to this emergency. We will urgently pursue additional reinforcements from within DHS and the interagency. And we will require those seeking to enter the United States to wait in Mexico until an immigration court has reviewed their claims.”
CBP, the agency that oversees the legal ports of entry and the Border Patrol agents that patrol in between the ports, had already authorized 750 officers to be pulled from the ports and deployed to the line.
Their duties will include transporting, processing and watching over illegal immigrants while they seek medical care. Up to 40 percent of agents’ time right now is being absorbed by those babysitting duties.
Ms. Nielsen said under her new orders up to 2,000 officers can be deployed now — and she left open the possibility of even more.
Those redeployments are likely to send wait times at the legal border crossings soaring, bringing the pain of illegal immigration home to some Americans.