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Reps question Vilsack over USDA border deployment

Report of agency plans to send 500 workers to supervise unaccompanied children raises eyebrows in Congress.

Farm Press Staff

May 11, 2021

1 Min Read
The U.S. Capitol is seen from the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C.USDA ARS

Two California congressmen are leading a group of 35 members of the House of Representatives in raising questions about a USDA plan to send some of its workers to the southern border to care for and supervise unaccompanied migrant children.

Republican Reps. Ken Calvert and Doug LaMalfa joined others in recently sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra regarding reports that USDA is planning to send 500 employees to the U.S.  border with Mexico in response to the current migrant crisis.

The agency has confirmed the workers will be sent as part of the Biden administration’s effort t"o support the federal government’s urgent efforts to care for and place Unaccompanied Children who have entered the U.S.," a USDA spokesman told the Washington Examiner.

Among the lawmakers’ concerns is that the workers aren’t properly trained.

“The impacts of the border crisis are being felt around the country,” Calvert said. “Now, federal employees from unrelated agencies are being taken away from their normal government functions to respond to the border crisis.”

The legislators are seeking answers to various questions about the move, such as what duties the workers will be expected to perform and the anticipated costs of per diem, lodging and travel expenses.

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