CBP: Border Patrol Agents Face Termination If Not Vaccinated

By Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
October 22, 2021 Updated: October 22, 2021

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said border patrol agents would face discipline up to termination if not vaccinated against the COVID-19, a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

“DHS [Department of Homeland Security] is actively working to ensure compliance with President [Joe] Biden’s Executive Order requiring that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 22, except in limited circumstances where an exception is required by law,” CBP Media Relations Headquarters Branch Chief Justin Long told The Epoch Times Thursday via email, responding to a question of what will happen to border patrol agents if they don’t get vaccinated by the deadline.

“Employees who choose to remain unvaccinated for COVID-19 and have not received or have a pending request for a legally required exemption will be subject to discipline, up to and including removal from federal service,” the email reads.

As part of the DHS, CBP is the nation’s largest law enforcement agency and has more than 60,000 employees. The Border Patrol has a workforce of over 20,000 agents assigned to patrol the more than 6,000 miles of America’s land borders. In the fiscal year 2019, when the total border patrol agents number was under 20,000, about 17,000 (pdf) were deployed at the southwest border.

Long didn’t respond to how many border patrol agents have been fully or partially vaccinated or if any exemptions have been granted.

But Long said that DHS has developed an online tool for personnel to report their current vaccination status, called the Vaccination Status System (VSS). This system is available to all DHS employees except the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Coast Guard, which have their own reporting systems.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) told NTD Wednesday that he had been told up to 5,000 border patrol agents would “separate” over the vaccine mandate.

“If that many were to leave, as porous as our border already is, you truly have a national security crisis along your border,” Biggs said.

The government is mandating vaccine upon border patrol agents, but not “people who enter the country illegally, and some estimates are well over 20 percent have COVID,” Biggs said.

In an interview on Aug. 9, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said that agents’ vaccination rates varied widely, from a low of 30 percent in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas to as high as 78 percent in other sectors along the border, according to the Washington Post.

Long said in the email that “we expect reported vaccination rates to increase throughout the next few weeks both due to an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations and an increase in reporting.”

Epoch Times Photo
A Border Patrol agent picks up three illegal aliens after Texas state troopers arrested two U.S. citizen smugglers who were transporting them to San Antonio, in Kinney County, Texas, on Oct. 20, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Two Congressmen also expressed concern that unvaccinated border patrol agents are facing removal amid the deteriorating border crisis.

“For years and through multiple administrations, it has been difficult to recruit and retain men and women to serve in U.S Border patrol. The locations of the job are typically remote and the job is often dangerous and hard,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said in a letter dated Sept. 28 to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“It is simply unbelievable that the Biden Administration will allow COVID-positive illegal aliens to surge across the border but will terminate dedicated law enforcement officers who do not comply with Biden’s mandate,” the letter said.

The two Congressmen urged Mayorkas to find “reasonable accommodations for CBP officers” who choose not to receive the vaccine. However, from the email CBP sent to The Epoch Times, the only accommodations are likely religious or medical exemptions.

“Employees may also request a reasonable accommodation, including a religious or medical exemption, by Nov. 9,” the email reads. Employees also need to certify their vaccination status by the same day—Nov. 9.

According to DHS’s requirements, the deadline to be fully vaccinated is Nov. 22, so employees have to take the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson, no later than Nov. 8.

CBP reported over 1.5 million encounters at the southern border during the fiscal year 2021, even without September’s data.

Li Hai
Li Hai is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.