The federal government intends to divert hundreds of Transportation Security Administration agents and air marshals from U.S. airports to the southern border, raising concerns about long lines and safety heading into the busy summer travel season, CNN is reporting.

CNN says the plan to ultimately send nearly 600 law enforcement and security operations officials from the TSA to help with swelling numbers of illegal border crossings was revealed in an internal memo it obtained.

The report said the deployment would not involve airport screeners, "at least initially."

A TSA spokesperson declined to confirm the accuracy of the report, saying only, "TSA, like all DHS components, is supporting the DHS effort to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the southwest border. TSA is in the process of soliciting volunteers to support this effort while minimizing operational impact."

But the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA accused the Trump administration of undermining aviation security.

"We implore the White House and Department of Homeland Security to reverse this harmful plan," the union said in a statement, noting that TSA is charged with transportation security, not border patrol.

With summer travel season beginning, the union said, "this is the exact wrong time to stretch resources thin. Uniformed transportation security officers are only part of the important security network that keeps the flying public and aviation workers safe. 

"There are thousands of security personnel in plain sight or behind the scenes that monitor aviation security as well. While the public may not be able to see this staff diversion, removing them from their post will undoubtedly have effects."

The U.S. Travel Association said it was concerned about the impact on the travel, noting that the administration has already sent customs officials from airports to the border, resulting in long wait times in some arrival halls.

"Acknowledging the concerns about the situation on the southern border, we must closely watch the secondary effects of the measures being undertaken to address it--especially disruption to the U.S. economy," said Tori Barnes, vice president of public affairs and policy for U.S. Travel.

"Further stretching CBP and TSA resources -- especially headed into the busiest time of year at our nation's airports and points of entry -- clearly could result in turmoil for business and leisure travel that supports millions of livelihoods all across the country.

Barnes said that additional funding is essential and systemwide reforms are necessary to ensure the full functionality of these agencies. 

"We urge the administration and Congress to immediately engage in a thorough and intensive discussion about appropriate resourcing for all of the Department of Homeland Security's vital functions in the face of current challenges."
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This report was updated Wednesday to add comments from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

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