The Biden administration has offered thousands of federal employees four months of paid leave if they’ll volunteer to help care for migrant children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
The administration emailed the federal workers asking for help with Unaccompanied Alien Children, or UACs, according to The New York Times.
“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 Times reported.
“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,” the paper wrote.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said on Fox News that he thinks the number of UACs will be higher than the 35,000 the Biden administration estimates will be in custody by June.
Abbott last week blamed the Biden administration for the border crisis, noting that Texas child welfare agencies have received complaints about sexual abuse at one detention center, the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.
“This facility is a health and safety nightmare,” Abbott said. “The Biden administration is now presiding over the abuse of children. To end this abuse, the Biden administration must immediately shut down this facility.”
But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House has no plans to shut down the facility.
“Well, first we take safety and the well-being of children in our care very seriously, hence our earlier conversation about the funding spent to keep them safe during the pandemic,” Psaki said. “His claims will be looked into and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services.”
She added: “Currently we have no basis for his call to shut down the San Antonio Freeman Coliseum as an intake site but we will of course — we take these allegations seriously and they will be investigated.”
The Times report came after a Republican senator claimed a Biden official “asked that he delete his photos” he took as he toured an overcrowded facility at the U.S.-Mexico border. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told The Washington Examiner that a Biden aide involved in the tour “asked that he delete his photos. Like others on the trip, he didn’t.”
“There was one of Biden’s representatives,” he told the Examiner. “I felt sorry for the lady because she actually talked to me about deleting a picture, but by the time she got to me, all those other pictures were taken, and that shows you the hypocrisy. None of us would have gone down there if we were going to be muzzled,” said Braun, who added that Border Patrol also asked that no photos be taken, but that “they were telling us that because they had to.”
After the visit, Braun wrote a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to visit the border himself.
“The crisis surrounding this surge makes it a moral imperative for you to see firsthand what is happening—and not the sanitized version of the border tour taken by some of my congressional colleagues,” Braun wrote. “Having personally gone this week, I can testify to this being an inhumane, unsustainable, and dangerous situation.”
The title of this article has been revised to clarify that HHS is requesting help in caring for migrant children in government facilities.