The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last month that it has officially launched the “Climate Change Professionals Program.” According to a news release, the program will help DHS to recruit “recent graduates and present federal workers to support the Department’s growing focus on adapting to climate change and improving resilience.”

The program is under the auspices of the Climate Change Action Group (CCAG), which DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas established in 2021. The CCAG, which is comprised of senior leaders from across the Department, “focuses on promoting resilience and addressing multiple climate change-related risks, including flooding, extreme heat, drought, and wildfires.”

Mayorkas explains that the new program will provide “hands-on experience” and increase opportunity for the younger generations interested in climate change to get involved.

“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,” Mayorkas said.

The Climate Change Professionals Program is a two-year educational program. When completed, those individuals will become qualified to work for the DHS full-time and gain “Climate Change Professional accreditation from the Association of Climate Change Officers,” the news release explained.

The DHS asserts that the program is a matter of national and global significance as well as security.

Per the agency’s website, “The climate crisis poses a multi-level threat to the American people, the global community, and DHS operations at home and abroad. It is vital for the Department to provide leadership and act to minimize its own environmental impact, to promote resilience against the risks posed by climate change, and to facilitate adaptation, so as to reduce harms and threats to the American people and abroad.”

However, some conservative officials have pushed back against the program.

On January 27, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), the House Border Security Caucus co-chairman, wrote a letter to Mayorkas, accusing him of misusing taxpayers’ dollars and creating a distraction from the border crisis.

The letter, signed by forty House Republicans, argues that America is facing its worst border crisis yet, with two million unlawful border crossings in 2021.

Babin also questioned Mayorkas’ use of the words “security threat,” in reference to climate change. The Border Security chairman contended that natural disaster deaths are at their lowest in 120 years, with a 92% decrease from their peak decade average in the 1920s, and that the rate of deaths due to climate decreased by 98% during the last century.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also blasted Mayorkas in a letter on January 20.

“Unfortunately, instead of focusing on the crisis at the southern border, you are prioritizing the creation of woke partisan government programs,” Hawley wrote. “Meanwhile, the southern border is experiencing a surge in drug trafficking and illegal border crossings.”