The Department of Health and Human Services is asking federal workers to volunteer for 120-day deployments to the US-Mexico border to help manage an escalating surge in young illegal migrants.
A job ad posted Thursday says the temporary position involves supervising children and assisting with their possible placement with family members living in the US.
The role of temporary “field program specialist” will allow federal workers to maintain their current rate of pay during their four-month assignment.
“The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) requires current Federal government civilian employees for up to 120-day deployment details to support ORR at facilities for unaccompanied children,” the job posting says.
“Details will involve contact with migrant children and a variety of federal and non-federal entities, possibly including HHS, DHS, American Red Cross, and other Federal employees. This is a reimbursable detail. Travel, lodging and per diem will be provided by ORR. The detail is not a promotion opportunity.”
Desired candidates include people with “Spanish proficiency as well as those familiar with indigenous dialects spoken in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and/or El Salvador.”
The workers will have to “maintain line of sight and supervision of children” and “assess the needs of unaccompanied children in care.”
The temps will have to “interview unaccompanied children in CBP custody and collect contact information for parents in home country and family members in the US.”
They will also “efficiently collect and provide information to ORR to enable the National Call Center to begin contacting parents and family members to expedite children’s discharge to a US family member sponsor.”
The federal government has previously sent temporary workers to the border. In 2018, the Pentagon sent lawyers to the border to help enforce then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all illegal crossings.
The Biden administration has allowed all unaccompanied children who illegally cross the US-Mexico border to stay at least temporarily in the country, but says it expels all single adults and some families under a Trump-era COVID-19 policy.
However, an average of just 13 percent of nearly 13,000 members of families who tried to cross the border illegally were turned back to Mexico last week, according to a report — undermining the chorus from the Biden administration that most people crossing unlawfully are sent back.
As of Wednesday, there were 16,500 unaccompanied minors in federal custody, of whom about 11,500 were housed by HHS and another 5,000 were in cramped Border Patrol facilities, CBS News reported.
Although many new migrants are telling journalists they traveled to the border because of Biden’s campaign promises to welcome asylum seekers and reform immigration laws, Biden denied on Thursday that he was to blame, describing the surge as a seasonal increase, despite ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega noting that a solo nine-year-old’s mom said she sent him alone from Honduras due to Biden’s words.
Biden also said that most of the children are older teens.
“Of all the children who are coming across the border, over 70 percent are either 16 or 17 years old. We’re not talking about people ripping babies from mothers’ arms or little three-year-olds standing on the border. Less than — I think it’s one and a half percent fall in the category of the very young,” Biden said.
“The vast majority of these children — 70 percent — are 16 years old, 17 years old, and mostly males. Doesn’t make it — that doesn’t make it good, bad, or indifferent. But the idea that we have tens of thousands of kids in these God-awful facilities that are, really, little babies crying all night — and there’s some; that’s true. That’s why we got to act.”
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