As border crisis rages, Homeland Security champions … electric vehicles

"DHS is leading the charge among federal agencies to transition its fleet vehicles from internal combustion engines to zero-emission electric vehicles."
Migrant caravan, Mexico, June 7, 2022

Amid record illegal immigration and migrants dying in droves at the "deadliest land crossing in the world," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has chosen to highlight its forays into clean energy through the deployment of electric vehicles.

In June, over 50 migrants were found dead in an abandoned tractor-trailer after a botched migrant trafficking effort. In late August, the bodies of two young children were discovered in the Rio Grande. Earlier this month, eight migrants drowned in the same river as part of a mass crossing attempt. Incidents such as these are commonplace at the U.S. border with Mexico and their prevalence prompted the United Nations International Organization for Migration in July to dub that frontier the "deadliest land crossing in the world."

Under the Biden administration, which has only loosely enforced immigration law, migrant encounters at the border have skyrocketed. On Monday, numbers from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) revealed that migrant encounters had, for the first time, topped 2 million during the same fiscal year. Moreover, in just the month of August, that figure cleared 200,000. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier this month that Border Patrol agents had encountered more than 80 members of the Terror Watchlist at the crossing since President Joe Biden took office.

A dozen more illegal migrants with ties to terrorism were apprehended in August alone.

But amid documented evidence of the humanitarian and security disasters at the nation's southern border, DHS chose to focus on climate action, unveiling a plan this week to field all-electric vehicles for its law enforcement operations.

In the announcement, DHS boasted that it had become the first federal agency to debut an electric vehicle for law enforcement use and asserted its plans to field a variety of such vehicles across the country.

"The Ford Mustang Mach-E is the first of a variety of EVs DHS plans to field across its varied law enforcement missions throughout the homeland," the statement reads.

"DHS is leading the charge among federal agencies to transition its fleet vehicles from internal combustion engines to zero-emission electric vehicles," said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien. "As the Nation’s third largest federal agency and largest law enforcement agency, DHS has an inventory of more than 50,000 vehicles, with law enforcement vehicles making up 60 percent of its fleet."

"DHS is proud to be the first Federal agency to upfit a battery electric vehicle for law enforcement use. As we ramp up EV adoption, we are excited to see how this and other EVs perform for our mission," he continued. The agency noted that the Ford vehicle was undergoing "high threshold testing" and was the target of cybersecurity assessments to clear it for DHS use.

"DHS is proactively seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, EVs have the potential to significantly improve federal fleet efficiency and reduce vehicle operation and maintenance costs," acting Under Secretary for Management R. D. Alles said. "DHS is also looking to create climate-resilient facilities and infrastructure, and to continue transitioning the DHS vehicle fleet towards electrification in the years to come."

The department's prioritization of climate action comes amid the Biden administration's ongoing legal battle to end Title 42 expulsions, a practice by which border enforcement may remove apprehended illegal migrants if they arrived by way of a country known to host a communicable disease. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the expulsion was both a significant deterrent to migrants and a boon to border enforcement operations.

A Louisiana judge blocked the lifting of the order and litigation is ongoing. Republicans have warned that lifting the order would exacerbate an already dire situation and prompt a human "tsunami."

The ongoing border crisis has prompted some Republicans to float the possibility of impeaching DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. "This is his moment in time to do his job but at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in April, prior to the release of record-breaking migrant numbers from CBP.