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Department of Homeland Security: Mexican Border vs. Cybersecurity Priorities

Staffers at the The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have been asked to deploy to the U.S. Mexican border for short assignments to help manage the influx of migrants.

Matthew Travis, CISA deputy director

The ask comes after an earlier, similar request for volunteers across all DHS units to put their daily duties aside didn’t produce enough people to satisfy officials. This time around, however, Matthew Travis, CISA deputy director, made an appeal to agency employees’ sense of duty, sending an email asking workers to consider a “short-term deployment to the southern border,” ranging from 30 to 45 days, due to the “ongoing surge of migrants,” the Daily Beast, which viewed the email, reported.

“It is never easy to ask colleagues to take on extra challenges, but as DHS employees, serving the needs of the homeland is the cornerstone of what we do,” Travis reportedly said. “If it is in your capacity to deploy, please give serious thought to volunteering,” he added. Among the officials who were asked on Friday to assist the federal government at the border are those safeguarding the U.S. government’s cyber infrastructure, the report said.

Homeland Security Cybersecurity Talent: Remaining Online?

With the second request by DHS headquarters, it appears that CISA employees may be reluctant to leave their cybersecurity posts for the temporary deployment. Still, it’s not like the threats that CISA deals with on a daily basis, such as protecting the country’s voting systems ahead of the upcoming 2020 elections, as the Daily Beast pointed out, will somehow ebb while employees assist with border security issues.

DHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Tyler Houlton

DHS, however, isn’t down with that thinking. “DHS is fully capable of deploying more resources to address the crisis at our southern border while simultaneously maintaining our operational capabilities throughout the Department in order to carry out our mission to protect the American people,” said Tyler Houlton, DHS acting assistant secretary for public affairs, in a statement.

“As we have consistently said, the Department is considering all options to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” he said. “We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem. As part of this effort, it is our responsibility to explore fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress.”

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