U.S. plans to send transportation staff to U.S.-Mexico border

FILE PHOTO: Concertina wire is seen atop a section of border fence near the U.S.-Mexico border in Donna, Texas, U.S. May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration plans to redirect Transportation Security Administration staff to the U.S. southern border to assist with immigration duties and migrant flows, the TSA said on Wednesday.

A TSA spokesman said in a statement the bureau was looking for volunteers to support efforts at the U.S. border with Mexico, where the government has said it is grappling with record numbers of people.

“TSA, like all DHS components, is supporting the DHS effort to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border. TSA is in the process of soliciting volunteers to support this effort while minimizing operational impact,” TSA spokesman James Gregory said in a statement.

The TSA border assignment will last at least 45 days and comes at the start of the busy summer travel season, which a U.S. official acknowledged carried “some risk,” CNN reported, citing an internal email it obtained.

TSA staff will include 175 law enforcement officials, including air marshals, and as many as 400 security staff drawn from six U.S. cities but will not include airport screeners, CNN said, citing two additional unnamed sources. The six cities were not immediately identified.

TSA law enforcement officials sent to the border will receive legal training and assist the Customs and Border Protection department as immigration officers, the report said.

The decision comes as the airline and travel industry urge lawmakers to approve funding for more Customs and Border Patrol officers, warning of excessive wait times for traveling and shipping as officers have been shifted to the border.

The Department of Interior has also doubled the number of officers it is sending for three-week stints to the border, from 22 to 47, The Hill reported on Wednesday, citing an internal memorandum.

An Interior Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. government reported earlier this month that border officers had apprehended nearly 99,000 people crossing the border with Mexico in April, the highest figure since 2007. More than two-thirds of those apprehended were children or people traveling as families.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Meredith Mazzilli)

Trump to travel to U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday: White House

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Rose Garden after a meeting with U.S. Congressional leaders about the partial U.S. government shutdown and border security at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump plans to visit the U.S. southern border on Thursday, leaving Washington for the first time since the partial federal shutdown began 16 days ago over his demand for funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.

The Republican president showed no sign of backing off his pledge to build a wall, which he says is necessary to stem illegal immigration. Democrats in Congress disagree, with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling the building of a wall “immoral.”

Trump skipped a planned trip to Florida to stay in the U.S. capital during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday after large chunks of the federal government were shuttered on Dec. 22. He exhorted Democrats in Congress to “come back from vacation” and approve funding for his wall.

Democrats returned to Washington in the new year, taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and passed legislation to reopen all closed government agencies but did not include wall funding. This week, they will pass a series of bills to reopen federal agencies after weekend talks between the Trump administration and Democratic negotiators failed to end a stalemate.

The White House did not provide details of Trump’s trip, but the planned visit will likely highlight security concerns pushed by the administration as justification for the wall.

“President @realDonaldTrump will travel to the Southern border on Thursday to meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis,” White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said in a Twitter post on Monday.

She said details would be announced soon.

Lawmakers and Trump hit an impasse last month over Trump’s demand that a bill to keep the federal government operational include money to help build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. About 800,000 government workers are either furloughed or working without pay.

On Sunday, Trump pledged not to bend in his demand for $5.6 billion to pay for the wall but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund it.

Trump has argued the wall is necessary for national security and has tried to link terrorism to illegal immigration, without providing evidence, as justification for the plan. Democrats say the wall is expensive and inefficient, as well as contrary to American values.

Trump visited the southern border last March.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Tim Ahmann; Editing by David Alexander and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Trump says will sign something ‘pre-emptive’ on immigration border policy

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a Cabinet meeting, where he discussed immigration policy at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millli

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would sign something “pre-emptive” soon to solve the problem of immigrant families being separated at the U.S. southern border, which has sparked outrage in the United States and abroad.

It was not immediately clear what Trump, who had previously blamed the family separations on Democrats, would sign. An earlier report from Fox News Channel said the Trump administration was considering an executive order that would allow immigrant families who cross the border illegally to stay together longer than is currently permitted.

Videos of youngsters in cages and an audiotape of wailing children have sparked anger at home from groups ranging from clergy to influential business leaders, as well as condemnation from abroad.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said he hoped his measure would be matched with legislation in the U.S. Congress. The House of Representatives was to vote on Thursday on two bills designed to halt the practice of separating families and to address other immigration issues. But Republicans said they were uncertain if either measure would have enough support to be approved.

Trump campaigned on stopping illegal immigration and has fiercely defended his administration’s actions. He had called on Democratic lawmakers to stop the family separations, even though his fellow Republicans control both chambers in Congress and his own administration implemented the current policy.

A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll released on Tuesday showed fewer than one in three American adults supporting the policy.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Susan Cornwell, Amanda Becker and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Will Dunham and Bill Trott)