Sen. Hawley: DHS Prioritizing Woke Climate Change Program Over Border Crisis

DHS program is dedicated to 'adapting to climate change and improving resilience'

Sen. Josh Hawley / Getty Images
January 20, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security’s recent decision to create a "Climate Change Professionals Program" is sparking accusations from a leading Republican senator that the Biden administration is "prioritizing the creation of woke partisan government programs" amid a historic crisis at the U.S. southern border.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), in a letter sent Thursday to Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accused the agency of putting "woke" social politics ahead of the country’s national security by focusing on climate change as a national security threat. Hawley is demanding that DHS hand over documents related to the climate change program so that he and other senators can craft legislation aimed at killing the program.

"It is well past time to start prioritizing the border crisis," Hawley wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon. "The American people are relying on you to do so. Prioritize the border, stop creating woke climate programs, and enforce the law."

Hawley’s probe into the climate change program comes amid a growing crisis at the southern border that has seen an unprecedented number of illegal migrants and drugs smuggled into the United States. Customs and Border Protection reported nearly two million run-ins with illegal immigrants in 2021, marking "the worst border crisis in American history," according to Hawley. More than 87,000 pounds of narcotics, including fentanyl, were seized at the border in the past year. As DHS struggles to get this crisis under control, it is moving forward with its new program to train "the next generation of climate experts."

DHS announced last week that its Climate Change Professionals Program will "recruit recent graduates and current federal employees to support the department’s growing focus on adapting to climate change and improving resilience." The program will "substantially help DHS adapt to climate change and improve resilience," according to the agency. Once participants complete the two-year program, they will receive an official accreditation from the Association of Climate Change Officers and be eligible for a permanent, full-time job at DHS.

"The Climate Change Professionals Program will be instrumental in helping the Department adapt to our changing climate by providing hands-on experience and guidance to young professionals interested in climate adaptation and resilience," Mayorkas said in a statement. "This program will develop the next generation of climate experts, improve climate literacy throughout the Department, and help us execute our Climate Action Plan to remain mission-resilient while reducing our own impacts on the environment."

Hawley maintains that DHS should not be involved in climate politics while the border crisis grows. He is directing the agency to provide him with detailed information about the climate program by Feb. 15 so that "Congress can consider remedial legislation."

The senator wants to know under what statutory authority DHS created the new climate change program, as well as how the program fits into DHS’s mission and current priorities.

"How would creating the Climate Change Professionals Program help diminish the crises at the southern border? How would creating the Climate Change Professionals Program help stop the flow of fentanyl over the southern border?" Hawley asked in the letter.

The lawmaker also wants to know how much taxpayer funding the program was awarded and how government resources will be allocated to it. This includes a detailed accounting of how much funding and staff at DHS will be dedicated to "working on issues dealing with climate change."