WASHINGTON, DC – The Biden administration is asking federal employees to pause their normal duties to take paid leave to assist with the processing and caring for an increasing number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the southern border.
Federal employees asked to “volunteer” at border for up to 120 days. Of course, this a paid leave. https://t.co/XJlEbLOdaK
— Gary_C (@GaryCon03777453) April 1, 2021
Employees who volunteer will serve a fourth-month detail with the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to a memorandum sent out March 25 by Kathleen McGettigan, Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The memo reads:
“The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to support the Administration’s urgent efforts to care for and place Unaccompanied Children who have entered the United States via the southern border.
“HHS is seeking interested candidates to serve up to a 120-day voluntary deployment detail as part of the HHS, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Unaccompanied Children (UC) Program.
OPM and HHS are calling upon our Federal Agency family of exceptional public servants to lend support to this humanitarian effort through this detail opportunity.”
US Federal Employees Asked to Volunteer and Assist at Southern Border https://t.co/u7GdYALbB5
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) March 31, 2021
The Biden administration has refused to call the situation at the border a crisis, but the numbers are making that refusal difficult to continue. In March, border agents encountered nearly 19,000 children at the border, the largest number ever recorded in a single month. The flow of migrant children is expected to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
The federal government has more than 20,000 children in detention facilities. Government projects show there could be more than 35,000 migrant children to care for by June.
This week, the administration reportedly sent emails directly to federal employees asking them to volunteer for paid leave to help care for the unaccompanied minors. The emails were sent to employees at agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and NASA, according to a report by The New York Times.
▶️ Journalists were allowed into the main border detention facility Tuesday, revealing more than 4,000 migrants in a severely overcrowded space.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) March 31, 2021
In the March memo, the administration asked agency supervisors to allow staff to volunteer for the four-month detail, and that each agency would be reimbursed for the expense:
“We are requesting that agencies support this effort by encouraging supervisors to allow interested staff to volunteer for the details.
“We continue to be inspired by the spirit of volunteerism and dedication to public service demonstrated by all those across the federal government who have supported many response efforts in the past.”
NASA asked its employees this week to volunteer for a four-month tour to help children at the southern border, according to an email obtained by NewsNation. https://t.co/RZwhMzGe73
— NewsNation Now (@NewsNationNow) April 9, 2021
President Biden has already deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the border to assist with the growing number of arrivals, but HHS still requires additional staffing. A FEMA spokesman said the agency is doing what it can to support the inflow of minors:
“FEMA is supporting the Department of Health and Human Services’ response to the arrival of unaccompanied children at the southwest border. FEMA is actively engaged with HHS to quickly expand capacity for safe and appropriate shelter, and to provide food, water and basic medical care.”
Blue line shows increase in unaccompanied minors, with 18,890 taken into custody in March, a record pic.twitter.com/uFJKR3cWIt
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) April 8, 2021
Despite the administration’s refusal to declare the situation at the border a crisis, Rep. John Katko (R-NY), the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, used the FEMA deployment as an opportunity to call out the administration:
“If FEMA is involved, it’s a disaster by definition. The secretary is tasking FEMA to help on the southwest border, it further demonstrates the severity of the situation.”
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Media blackout? DHS official says they’ve been ordered not to speak with media about border crisis
March 18, 2021
TEXAS – According to a recent report from Breitbart News, a senior-level law enforcement source in the Department of Homeland Security allegedly told the outlet that officials outside of the White House Press Office and DHS Public Affairs “have been advised not to speak on immigration issues at the border.”
A senior-level law enforcement source at DHS says they received verbal orders from within the Biden administration limiting their ability to speak freely about the growing crisis along the border as Biden tries to limit fallout from the crisis he created. https://t.co/7kGdfgfryO
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 8, 2021
It’s with little debate at this point that there are issues ongoing at the southern border – namely concerning influxes of migrants crossing into the country unlawfully in the midst of the pandemic, and perceived lax approaches to immigration with the new administration.
And now, according to Breitbart, gathering insight into the ongoing debacle at the southern border may be harder to access moving forward.
From what the report alleges, an “official with knowledge of the restrictions” spoke to Breitbart under the veil of anonymity, allegedly saying the following:
“We have been advised not to speak on immigration issues at the border and to rely on DHS’s Office of Public Affairs and the White House Press Office to handle messaging.”
There’s reportedly no set time for when these alleged orders regarding media relations expires.
Immigration-related issues has been a topic lately that has managed to gain attention from both aisles of the political spectrum.
Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar from Texas recently made an appearance on Fox News about immigration concerns transpiring at the southern border:
“I can tell you this, those numbers of people that are being released, they’re purposely withholding that information.”
“I now know that they’re bringing people from McAllen over to Laredo, processing them in Laredo, and they’re going to release them in my community.”
“I’ve seen this before, don’t let the local communities know what you’re doing, where they’re starting to bring people in from the valley, process them in Laredo, release them at a bus station. And, again, I’ve seen this before in the past.”
A media blackout wouldn’t be terribly surprising if it were indeed ordered by higher-ups within the DHS.
On March 6th, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice reportedly visited a handful of cities in Texas to get a first-hand look at what’s ongoing at the southern border.
— Alexander (@azakharov82) March 6, 2021
However, members of the press were reportedly barred access to the Border Patrol stations and the HHS unaccompanied children’s detention facility where the delegation had visited on March 6th.
Sources reportedly informed Breitbart that said denial of access to the press during those visits were “to prevent the imagery of overcrowded facilities from circulating.”
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Author: Scott A. Davis
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