DHS chief calls for more volunteers to help manage surge in migrant children at border

Jana Winter
·2-min read

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas sent out a plea Monday morning to his workforce seeking more volunteers to work at the border, according to an email obtained by Yahoo News. This request comes just a few weeks after he set up a volunteer force to help Customs and Border Protection deal with the surge in migrants along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“We still need assistance,” Mayorkas wrote in an email sent to the entire department Monday. “Please consider volunteering with the DHS Volunteer Force. I have asked Component leadership and I am asking supervisors to please make every effort to support our colleagues who request to volunteer. The safety of our employees is a priority and we have been able to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to volunteers who want one.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Majorkas’s email comes on the heels of an unprecedented rise in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border. President Biden has attempted to downplay the situation, saying it follows an annual pattern, but the numbers appear to be sharply higher than in recent years.

Alejandro Mayorkas
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a recent press briefing. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Last week his administration made its initial call for volunteers from across government to work at the border.

Individual agencies working there have also been trying to recruit volunteers. On March 8, Mayorkas set up a volunteer force to assist Customs and Border Protection, which is part of DHS, and the Department of Health and Human Services to help with unaccompanied children crossing the border.

“The situation is undoubtedly difficult,” Mayorkas told Congress earlier this month. “We are working around the clock to manage it, and it will take time.”

A current Homeland Security official, who asked for anonymity because DHS staff are not authorized to speak to the press, said these sorts of calls for volunteers tend to accompany surges at the border.

“This is like the surge during the Obama administration, when they put out calls for volunteers,” said the official. “The volunteer force is doing whatever needs to be done. Last time, it was mostly not interacting with migrants directly, but some people did things like help run names; others ran errands or picked up trash. Now it’s the same thing. They are getting more people than they can process, so this is an all-hands-on-deck.”


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