- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2021

As the border surge intensifies, Homeland Security is begging ICE deportation officers to rush to the border to help with “security operations” for the illegal immigrant children and families that are overwhelming the Border Patrol.

Michael W. Meade, acting assistant director for field operations at ICE, made the plea Thursday night, according to a memo seen by The Washington Times.

He said Customs and Border Protection, which handles the borders, is swamped and needs help from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which generally handles deportations and arrests in the interior of the U.S.

“This situation mandates immediate action to protect the life and safety of federal personnel and the aliens in custody. To support its mission and mitigate the situation, CBP is in need of federal employees from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Components to assist in critical security functions,” he wrote. “To assist, ERO is seeking volunteers to support CBP with security operations for family units and UACs in CBP custody.”

ERO is Enforcement and Removal Operations, ICE’s 4,000-person deportation force. UACs are “Unaccompanied Alien Children,” the government’s term for the juveniles showing up at the border without parents. The number of UACs surged in February and early March, creating what many say is now a crisis.

Mr. Meade said those who step forward could get more pay through what’s known as Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime.

“The duties performed during this detail have been determined to be eligible for AUO and may include additional overtime, night and work on the weekends,” he said.

The memo follows an all-hands letter sent earlier this week by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. That letter, first reported by The Washington Times, went out to the entire department.

Mr. Mayorkas said he was reviving a program the Trump administration used in 2019.

That program sought folks with medical or legal skills, or to serve as drivers or food servers. Tapping ICE deportation officers to assist with care of children at the border appears to be a new aspect of the Biden volunteer force.

It’s not clear how that will be seen by immigrant-rights advocates and some Democrats on Capitol Hill, who have called for abolishment of ICE.

Mr. Meade said they want to get folks on the ground “as soon as this weekend.” He said the most likely duty station would be in Texas, which has seen the brunt of the surge.

He said the end date of the operation is “TBD,” suggesting the administration does not yet have a grasp on the contours of the surge and how large it could become.

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