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VP Mike Pence to visit Nogales BP station Thursday

While the Homeland Security Department continues to shed leaders, Vice President Mike Pence will tour the Nogales Border Patrol station on Thursday. 

Pence's trip was announced Monday following President Donald Trump's visit to Calexico, California and comes as the administration has forced out four leaders at DHS, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and her deputy Claire Grady, along with the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ron Vitiello, and the head of the U.S. Secret Service. 

The sudden shift in leadership has moved U.S. Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan into Nielsen's post, leaving CBP, —the agency that includes Border Patrol, and the Office of Field Operations which manages U.S. ports—without a Congressionally approved leader. 

At the same time, both CBP and ICE are struggling to deal with what officials call an "unprecedented" number of Central American families seeking asylum in the U.S. Officials have said that the influx requires Border Patrol to spend thousands of man-hours and millions in funding to process men, women and children before releasing them to either ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations, or directly to non-governmental organizations, including those in Tucson and Phoenix. 

The VP will also face a force that has dwindled despite major expenditures to hire new BP agents and customs officers, even as the administration has failed to convince Congress to vote for new funding for border barriers. Instead, after shutting down the federal government in an attempt to pressure lawmakers, Trump moved ahead with an emergency declaration to shift military funding to border construction projects.

Earlier this month, the president threatened to "shut down" the U.S. ports, but later backed off, and said that he would delay such a maneuver for a year. 

Pence will participate in a briefing with Border Patrol agents and will visit part of the border. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz.