The Biden administration has twice extended the deadline for federal employees to volunteer for months-long deployments at the US-Mexico border, undermining the White House’s attempts to downplay the recent severity of the migrant crisis.
In a Department of Defense bulletin sent Friday and obtained exclusively by The Spectator, staff were informed that the deadline to apply to the Health and Human Services (HHS) volunteer program to assist with the influx of unaccompanied migrant children had been extended from May 7 to May 21. The deadline had previously extended from April 26 to May 7.
In recent days, the White House has taken care to note that unaccompanied minors are moving more quickly from temporary Department of Homeland Security detention facilities to longer-term HHS care facilities. DHS shared photos of empty glass containers at its facilities, insisting that they ‘demonstrate the tremendous progress that DHS and its partners have made to safely and efficiently transfer these children out of CBP custody and into the care of HHS.’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said in a press briefing, ‘At the end of March, there were more than 5,000 children in Customs and Border Protection Patrol stations. Today, that number is approximately 600.’
However, the administration has not revealed that the HHS facilities are apparently so overwhelmed that they are quietly urging more bureaucrats from across the government to volunteer for months-long deployments to help interview the thousands of children in custody and connect them with adult sponsors.
HHS did not respond in time for publication.
‘All they’re doing is they’re moving kids from one tent to the other tent and saying, “Oh, they’re not in the Border Patrol (custody),” but they’re right next door,’ Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar explained in an interview with Border Report. ‘They’re just next door in HHS.’
HHS launched the volunteer program in late March, citing ‘urgent efforts to care for and place unaccompanied children who have entered the United States via the southern border.’ Federal employees who are interested in applying are directed to a USA Jobs page that is ‘not searchable’ by the general public.
The Spectator previously reported on details of the volunteer deployments per a FAQ sheet from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The ORR states that volunteers can expect to work 12-hour days, including weekends, for a few weeks to as long as four months. They will be responsible for conducting interview with unaccompanied minors, many of whom have been traumatized on their journey to the United States, with ‘no formal, classroom-based training.’
The US Department of Agriculture confirmed that it has committed to sending 500 of its own employees to the border:
‘We expect no disruption in service to our customers while we answer the call to assist with this critical humanitarian effort. USDA’s total commitment will be approximately 500 staff from a pool of 100,000+ total USDA workers.’
The Department of Defense said they similarly do not expect the program to provide a major disruption to daily operations, but referred questions regarding how many DoD employees have volunteered thus far to the Office of Personnel Management.
‘I would say the effect on DoD’s daily operations would be minimal. From what I understand, the tours are short – mostly for 30 days at a time. This isn’t much different from employees taking annual leave,’ DoD spokesman LTC Chris Mitchell told The Spectator.
The Office of Personal Management did not respond in time for publication.
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