The U.S. Department of the Interior confirmed on Monday that the agency will send law enforcement officers to assist with the patrolling effort to secure the U.S. border with Mexico.
“President Trump and I are 100 percent committed to keeping our border communities and the American people safe and secure, which is why I’m deploying some of Interior’s law enforcement officers to increase security on the southern border,” Zinke said in a statement released by the agency. “Today’s news is the first of many steps Interior will take to secure the homeland.”
“Interior is ready, willing, and able to deploy a significant force to carry out the President’s mission,” Zinke said.
Initially, 22 officers will be deployed to the border in Texas and Arizona with more planned for the future.
The Hill first reported on the move after it obtained an internal email from the agency about an announcement last week from the United States Park Police:
The announcement from the U.S. Park Police (USPP) Planning Unit and National Park Service (NPS), sent last Thursday, says that officers from both agencies will assist the Border Patrol along the southwest border starting May 13 as part of “Secretary [Ryan] Zinke’s offer of assistance to the Department of Homeland Security.”
USPP officers are traditionally tasked with policing NPS property around Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco.
According to the guidance, officers will be sent in rotating groups and spend “approximately 21 days” at two national park and monument sites located on the U.S.–Mexico border: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas.
Interior released information relevant to the deployment, including:
• DOI has more than 3,500 federal law enforcement officers, many of whom have experience working for or with Customs and Border Patrol.
• DOI manages 40 percent of the land along the southern border and maintains permanent law enforcement capabilities in the region.
• Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was closed to the public for more than a decade due to violence related to illegal border crossings and drug cartels. Working with CBP, the Interior Department built fences and barriers on Organ Pipe in addition to surveillance platforms which significantly reduced the flow of illegal immigrants.
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