The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration reports that a record 2.3 million travelers are expected to pass through the nation’s airports on Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving travel rush. That marks a 9 percent increase in travelers over 2017. The record for the number of travelers last year was 2.2 million.
“With all of the support we have in place, that number does not surprise me at all,” President Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
The record number of travelers comes days after the U.S. president ordered the deployment of an additional 3,750 National Guard troops at ports of entry to “preserve public safety and border security,” according to a report in The New York Times. Critics have claimed that the deployment is a White House attempt to divert attention from President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children — and legal residents who were born in the U.S. — a reprieve from deportation. DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said Wednesday that while the National Guard would supplement U.S. Customs and Border Protection, not replace them, the president had a “full and detailed briefing” on the matter during a visit on Tuesday to McAllen, Texas, which is where the new troops will be stationed.
A TSA survey found that 53 percent of travelers who chose to travel on Wednesday were flying, while 47 percent were taking to the skies with their families. That’s up from the same survey taken last year when 40 percent flew and 51 percent planned to fly with family. Airport delays are expected to hit record numbers too. In a separate report released earlier in the week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration reported that about 894,000 flights are scheduled on Thursday, an increase of 1.1 percent.