President Donald Trump is considering sending a volunteer emergency response team to the US-Mexico border — though some within the government think it doesn’t make sense.
Politico reported that four current and former officials who were briefed on Trump’s talks on the subject confirmed that the president is considering sending the team to the border.
One Homeland Security official briefed on the discussion told Politico that Trump has been “casting about” for additional methods to stop undocumented migrants from entering the United States — and that lawyers are being consulted as to whether “it’s possible at all.”
“All of this is just to buttress the administration’s claim that there’s an emergency,” another DHS official said of the consideration, adding that it “makes eminent sense for a hurricane” but not for border security.
Homeland Security operates a “Surge Capacity Force,” the report noted, that is meant to “augment the federal response to a catastrophic disaster.” It’s comprised of volunteers from DHS and other federal agencies, and typically responds to hurricanes and wildfires when FEMA cannot.
A Trump administration official that spoke to Politico said that the president could not use the existing surge force, however, because the team’s operations are paid for by a disaster relief fund and they’re trained in FEMA procedures that wouldn’t work in the context of border security.
“I think what they would seek to do is build a team of people from around the department that have skill sets in that arena,” the official said. “It would have to be different people and designed for a different purpose.”
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said he hadn’t heard about the president’s considerations. Judd added that such volunteers would likely be tasked with logistical work and that it’s “unlikely” that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers would be used at the border.