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Bid to send agents to border draws ire

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers clashed Tuesday over the White House's plan to send hundreds of Transportation Security Administration employees to the U.S.-Mexico border, with one airport official warning it could lead to long checkpoint lines this summer.

The Transportation Security Administration is asking federal air marshals, airport screeners and others to volunteer to support a buildup of federal agents along the border who are dealing with waves of migrants.

The agency says the plan calls for moving fewer than 1% of its 60,000 employees to the border and that security operations will continue uninterrupted. Employees who volunteer for border work will handle transportation, meal distribution and other tasks, but won't perform law enforcement duties.

"It just goes to show what a crisis we have down on the border," Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said during a hearing.

But the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., called shifting airport workers to the border a "contrived manufacturing of a crisis to the detriment of the TSA."

Travel industry groups have expressed concern that the shift could leave airports understaffed during the peak summer season.

Atlantic season's 1st storm weakens

MIAMI -- Subtropical storm Andrea, the first named storm of the Atlantic season, was maintaining a northward motion over the western Atlantic as it weakened late Tuesday and is expected to dissipate today.

Although there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said people in Bermuda should monitor the storm's progress, but that "Andrea is expected to degenerate into a remnant low" pressure system without posing a hazard to land.

The center said that Andrea was about 280 miles west southwest of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of about 35 mph. The center of Andrea is expected to remain southwest and south of Bermuda in the next day or two.

Former Virginia AG gets Homeland job

WASHINGTON -- The former attorney general of Virginia, whose name had been tossed around for months for an immigration role, will be joining President Donald Trump's administration, according to a White House official.

Ken Cuccinelli will be taking a position within the Department of Homeland Security, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday ahead of an official announcement.

Last month, Trump considered bringing on Cuccinelli as an "immigration czar" to coordinate policy across federal agencies. But the official said Cuccinelli will not be assuming that role.

A second official said the job was still being defined and it wasn't clear yet what Cuccinelli's role would be. The official was not authorized to speak about internal policy and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The hire comes during a migrant surge at the southern border that is straining federal resources. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has asked Congress for $4.5 billion more in supplemental funding.

Cuccinelli has in the past advocated for denying citizenship to the American-born children of parents living in the U.S. illegally, limiting in-state tuition at public universities only to those who are citizens or legal residents.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

A Section on 05/22/2019

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