• Dave Harmon, PW editor

Acting USNPS chief says he was not told of "surge" of rangers to border beforehand

National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, who has served as acting director for the National Park Service since Oct. 1, told lawmakers during a U.S. House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee hearing that he did not know much about his own agency’s deployment of park law enforcement rangers to assist the Border Patrol with illegal immigration.

Vela was responding to U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland, D-NM, chair of the subcommittee, who questioned the chief of the parks system about a story published Nov. 23 by the USA TODAY Network that exclusively revealed the extent of the NPS border deployments. The story reported that the Trump administration ordered rangers from national parks around the country, from as far as Alaska and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as from the Rocky Mountain and Great Smoky Mountains national parks, to travel to the U.S.-Mexican border to fight illegal immigration and drug traffickers.

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