Homeland Security officials suggested employees lock doors and windows and remove badges when in public, warning of heightened threats amid the rancorous immigration debate.
In a message to staff, Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady said someone had posted online the personal information of thousands of department employees.
The department is facing heavy criticism over the separating of children from their parents at the border amid a zero-tolerance policy that criminally prosecuted anyone caught crossing illegally. Homeland Security officials have said they are no longer referring families for prosecution following President Donald Trump’s order stopping the practice. But as least 2,300 children were taken from their parents after they crossed the border.
Grady said her assessment was “based on specific and credible threats that have been levied against certain DHS employees and a sharp increase in the overall number of general threats against DHS employees — although the veracity of each threat varies,” she wrote in the message sent Saturday to the department’s more than 200,000 members.
Investigators have looked into at least two dozen threats, including one in which a senior staff member found a charred, headless rodent on his doorstep, according to an agency official. The official wasn’t authorized to speak about the threats and requested anonymity.
The warning came after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled at a Washington restaurant, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia eatery.