The Biden administration is asking for federal workers to assist with “urgent efforts” to care for and place unaccompanied migrant children who are arriving at the southern border in increasing numbers.
The request for volunteers comes as the administration struggles to find space to house migrant children, leaving thousands of children in border facilities that are designed for adults and not suitable for children.
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The Department of Health and Human Services, which partnered with the Office of Personnel Management, is seeking volunteers for up to 120-day deployments to work for the HHS program that serves unaccompanied migrant children in the US, according to an OPM memo and job posting for federal employees.
“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,” reads a memo from OPM Acting Director Kathleen M. McGettigan to federal agency leadership last week.
Federal employees who volunteer will be compensated at their current rate of pay, and could currently serve at facilities along the southwest border area, specifically Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio, and Fort Bliss in Texas. Locations will extend to other geographic areas according to the need, the memo states.
Earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked department employees to volunteer to help support the “surge” of migrants along the US- Mexico border, calling the situation “overwhelming,” CNN previously reported.
“We still need assistance,” Mayorkas wrote to the DHS workforce Monday in an email obtained by CNN and first reported by BuzzFeed News. The secretary called on supervisors to “make every effort” to support the agencies in need.
An OPM spokesperson said the agency is working with HHS “to identify personnel to assist with efforts to care for and place unaccompanied children at the southern border.”
“Last week OPM issued a memo calling for civilian federal employee volunteers for deployment details of up to 120-days. We are actively working to screen, process and deploy these volunteers while continuing our recruitment efforts and exploration of other avenues to bolster staff resources at the border,” the spokesperson added.
Assignments will involve contact with migrant children and a variety of other federal agencies, like Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.