An “overwhelming” surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border has led Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to request assistance from volunteers from agencies within the department, according to a report.
In an email sent to Department of Homeland Security staff, obtained by Fox News, Mayorkas urged those who could travel — given the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic — to help Customs and Border Protection “as they face a surge in migration.”
“Today, I activated the Volunteer Force to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as they face a surge in migration along the Southwest Border,” the DHS secretary wrote, according to the outlet.
“You have likely seen the news about the overwhelming numbers of migrants seeking access to this country along the Southwest Border. President Biden and I are committed to ensuring our Nation has a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system while continuing to balance all of the other critical DHS missions,” he continued.
Mayorkas wrote that those who joined the volunteer force would be used in a non-law enforcement capacity, with responsibilities including managing property, preparing meals, doing supply runs, prescription medicine runs, housekeeping and assisting in control rooms.
He went on to acknowledge the risk being taken by those who opted in to help given the continued spread of the novel virus, writing, “I also realize these are uncertain times and being away from home may be concerning. But today your colleagues need assistance carrying out their mission to help others, and DHS is going to support you while deployed.”
“Your health and wellbeing will remain priorities,” he added.
A DHS spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
News of the email came late Monday, the same day a group of nearly two dozen House Republicans penned a letter to Mayorkas voicing their concern about how many migrants at the southern border had been tested for the novel virus before being granted entry.
The letter, led by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and signed by 23 lawmakers, urged the administration to restrict border crossings “in order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus during the public health emergency.”
The lawmakers also requested clarity following reports that at least 100 migrants who tested positive for Covid-19 had been released into the US.
The replacement of former President Donald Trump, who maintained a hard line on immigration, with Biden, who has undone his predecessor’s key border initiatives, has set off a new surge at the US border of Central American and Mexican illegal migrants, including thousands of unescorted children.
In his first month, President Biden ended construction of former President Trump’s signature border wall and began to end the “Remain in Mexico” policy under which about 71,000 Central American asylum applicants were awaiting rulings in Mexico.
He issued an order affirming the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives work permits and protection from deportation to people brought illegally to the US as minors.
He also proposed legislation that would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.
While insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, Mayorkas said while speaking to reporters earlier this month that the problems the agency did face should be blamed on the previous administration — despite data showing migrants flooding the border because they believe President Biden will welcome them with open arms.
“To put it succinctly, the prior administration dismantled our nation’s immigration system in its entirety.
“When I started 27 days ago, I learned that we did not have the facilities available or equipped to administer the humanitarian laws that our Congress passed years ago,” Mayorkas continued. “We did not have the personnel, policies, procedures or training to administer those laws.
“Quite frankly, the entire system was gutted.”
Mayorkas’ comments came before reporters had been given the chance to ask any questions, making it clear he was likely expecting to be pressed on the burgeoning crisis at the US-Mexico border, which has erupted since Biden was sworn in.
The US Customs and Border Protection revealed in a report last month that the number of migrants apprehended at the border in the month of January reached nearly 78,000, up from 36,679 in January 2020.