Biden Administration Ends Plan to Send Veterans Affairs Staffers to Border

Biden Administration Ends Plan to Send Veterans Affairs Staffers to Border
A group of Hondurans cross the Rio Grande toward Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, Mexico, on April 21, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Zachary Stieber

The Biden administration has scrapped its plan to send workers from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help with the border crisis, a top official said on May 4.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the administration had decided against sending VA staffers to the U.S.–Mexico border.

“We are not making that request of the Veterans Affairs department, and the Veterans Affairs department will not be allocating resources to the border,” Mayorkas told Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

A VA spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email that there are “no ongoing conversations about VA health care personnel being diverted from their primary mission of providing care to veterans,” but noted that the agency has deployed health care staffers during the pandemic to vaccinate certain immigration enforcement personnel, including Customs and Border Protection employees.

“We anticipate that we will continue to do that kind of work,” the spokesperson said.

Before Mayorkas answered, Murkowski said that if the proposal was going to move forward, “it’s going to be the veterans that would pay the price.”

The news that it won’t move forward will be “a huge relief to veterans in my state,” she added.

Mayorkas confirmed during a hearing in April that his department was discussing with the VA sending staffers such as doctors to the border to help deal with the crisis, which is expected to worsen if the administration is allowed to terminate a pandemic-era border policy called Title 42.

“Our teams, our personnel” have had talks with VA counterparts, Mayorkas told Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) at the time.

“The resources that the medical personnel from the Veterans Administration would allocate to this effort is under the judgment of the secretary of Veterans Affairs, who prioritizes the interests of veterans above all others for very noble and correct,” he also said.

Republicans soon introduced a bill that would prevent the VA from deploying resources to the border.

“America’s veterans have given everything for this country,” Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), told a briefing about the bill.

“We can’t let the resources and personnel that are supposed to be dedicated to taking care of them get ripped away because the president and his administration have so badly mismanaged our border security and illegal immigration problem.”

A group of 54 House Republicans also spoke out, telling Mayorkas in a letter that the proposal should be scrapped.

The Biden administration plans to end Title 42, which enables the quick expulsion of many illegal immigrants, on May 23.

Multiple lawsuits, though, have been lodged against the planned ending of the authority, and a federal judge recently ordered the administration not to start scaling back the authority as the cases work their way through the courts.
Related Topics