Dozens of U.S. Air Marshals are prepared to defy the Biden administration’s latest border security plan, which entails leaving about 99 percent of commercial flights unprotected to instead back up overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol agents. A career air marshal said plans to defy the Biden administration’s orders are approaching a “mutiny” by federal agents.
The Washington Examiner reported that in mid-2021 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asked for volunteers from its Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) office to leave their regular duties guarding flights and instead provide backup for the U.S. Border Patrol. Reuters reported that in October, fewer than 150 air marshals volunteered for a border rotation and that the DHS shifted from requesting volunteers to assigning them to the border.
The plan to pull air marshals over to the southern border comes as the U.S. has seen record-breaking numbers of illegal border crossings under the Biden administration.
Now, as air marshals are being ordered to the border, dozens of rank and file members have indicated they will refuse the assignments. An association of air marshals known as the Air Marshal National Council recently sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FAMS Director Tirrell Stevenson, warning that air marshals will refuse orders to go to the border.
“The rank and file air marshals are going to refuse to deploy and risk termination,” David Londo, a 16-year DHS employee and president of the Air Marshal National Council, told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. “You’re almost going to have a mutiny of a federal agency, which is unheard of.”
The letter from the Air Marshal National Council, which they provided to the Washington Examiner, referenced two separate security incidents onboard commercial airline flights just in November.
In the first Nov. 11 incident, which was a reported by the Washington Post, a man was able to get two box cutter’s through airport security and was seen in possession of the bladed tools an hour into the flight. The flight was able to make an emergency landing and the passenger in question was taken into custody without incident.
In the second incident, on Nov. 21, a man brought a straight edge razor blade onto a flight and held it to another passenger’s throat during the flight. A passenger took a video
FAMS is able to put members on about eight percent of commercial airline flights. Under the Biden-era plan to send air marshals to the border, FAMS would have to shrink its presence on commercial flights down to just 1-in-100 U.S. flights, leaving the other 99 percent unprotected.
In the letter to Mayorkas and Stevenson, the Air Marshal National Council said highly skilled air marshals would end up performing mostly non-law enforcement civilian humanitarian duties at the border. Londo told the Washington Examiner that air marshals who have been pulled to the border have been tasked with “heating up sandwiches,” driving immigrants in custody to the hospital, waiting on hospital watch.
Londo told the Washington Examiner that air marshals are willing to risk losing their jobs to defy what they see as the administration risking national security.