A record-setting 30 million Americans are expected to head to the airport this Thanksgiving holiday, and one industry expert is warning the deployment of air marshals to the southern border could mean Turkey Day troubles might not be isolated to bad weather.
“We just received an email last week that resources are depleted as far as our flying air marshals,” Sonya LaBosco, director of the Air Marshal National Council, told FOX News on Tuesday.
“We are ushering in illegal immigrants on the border and leaving the traveling public unsafe,” she added, telling viewers that air marshals are being deployed at the U.S. southern border instead of in the transportation sector where they belong.
She said leaders of key federal agencies, namely the Department of Homeland Security, the agency at large, and its subsidiary, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are to blame.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz previously questioned the TSA on the ongoing air marshal deployments at the southern border, writing in a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, “It is concerning that the administration has prioritized ushering illegal immigrants into the country over protecting the lives and safety of the traveling public.”
Touching on Cruz’s letter, LaBosco said air marshals deployed in the region are “not doing law enforcement duties” and are “passing out water” instead.
The letter penned to Pekoske echoed the same, as Cruz argued taking air marshals off flights for the deployments could be putting travelers “at risk.”
Initially, those deployed to the border were sought on a voluntary basis. Later, the deployments became mandatory, sparking outrage and a “mutiny” from marshals.
“Secretary Mayorkas has said more than once that the border is secure, so he is not concerned with that. But we all know that the border is not secure. He will not call this a crisis. But now, not only is the border destabilized, our aviation is destabilized as well,” LaBosco said.
“Clearly…we’re not flying right now. The only missions that we’re doing are quiet skies missions, and those are missions that are following the January 2021 people,” she continued, meaning a group in the industry are dedicated to following those who flew to the U.S. Capitol region around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, regardless of whether they were present at the Capitol.
“We’re either on the border for illegal immigrants or we’re following folks from January 2021. We’re not doing our regular missions where we’re out there looking for the bad guys. So right now, on most flights, you’re not going to have air marshals.”
Later, she warned that travelers should be “very concerned” while boarding planes.
“You need to look around to see who you might be able to ask to help you, like a good Samaritan, because you’re kind of on your own. If anything happens, please don’t wait. There’s going to be no law enforcement that’s going to help you, so you need to have a plan. Look where the exit doors are. Look where your flight attendants are standing around you,” she said.
“I would be looking around for a football player…a pretty big guy or a couple big guys, in case you needed to take action.”
FOX News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.