Efforts Growing to Recruit Federal Employees to Work at Southern Border

As the number of migrants crossing the southern border rapidly increases, the government is reportedly stepping up its efforts to recruit federal employees to help.

As the number of migrants crossing the southern border rapidly increases, the government has reportedly stepped up its efforts to recruit federal employees to help volunteer to care for migrant children at government run shelters.

The New York Times reported this weekend that more agencies are urging their employees to take a temporary detail to help out at the southern border. The article from the Times states:

The desperate plea landed this week in the email inboxes of employees in government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and NASA: Will you consider taking a four-month paid leave from your job to help care for migrant children in government-run shelters packed with new arrivals at the border?

The request to much of the federal work force came from the Department of Health and Human Services, which is at the heart of a frantic effort by the Biden administration to keep up with a surge in young people crossing the southwestern border hoping to reunite with relatives already in the United States.

As the Times story notes, NASA was one agency reported to have recently sent an email asking agency employees to work for up to 120 days at the border assisting with care for migrant children. Ken Klippenstein, a reporter with The Intercept, posted a tweet saying he had obtained a copy of the email: “NASA just sent employees an email seeking volunteers to help staff facilities for unaccompanied migrant children, per internal email provided to me,” wrote Klippenstein on Twitter.

NASA’s email noted that volunteering to work at the border is a reimbursable temporary detail that pays travel, lodging and per diem.

The Office of Personnel Management issued a memo last month in which it publicized the same temporary detail and asked agencies to share their information with their employees to recruit more volunteers. Federal employees who are interested can sign up through the USAJobs website via the detail announcement.

Agencies and some federal employees have responded. As the Times article also notes, 2,722 federal employees have volunteered so far as of last Friday:

A briefing memo sent to administration officials this week directed the health department to “identify and deploy all available federal volunteers to support” the effort to address the increase of minors, a drive reflected by the email seeking government workers to help. As of Friday, 2,722 employees across the government have volunteered, in most cases with their salaries being picked up by the health department. Some are caring for children at shelters. Others are helping with case management, I.T. services, food delivery, transportation and other logistics.

The efforts by the government to recruit federal employees to help out at the border follow news of rapidly rising numbers of immigrants seeking to enter the United States via the southern border. Figures provided by the Department of Homeland Security showed that authorities encountered 172,000 migrants in March, a 71% increase over February’s numbers. Those figures included almost 19,000 unaccompanied minors, a new monthly record.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.