A group of 62 House republicans, led by Reps. Elise Stefanik and Brian Babin, are demanding Biden to ease vaccine mandates for Border Patrol agents amid the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border.
“We have serious concerns about your vaccine mandate for Federal employees and how it will impact the already understaffed and overworked United States Border Patrol and our overall national security,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter, per Fox News.
In September, Biden announced that federal employees and private sector workers in businesses with over 100 employees must be vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests. The mandate is expected to impact more than 100 million Americans, and has increased fears of staff shortages in multiple fields.
“We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said. “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It is about protecting yourself and those around you.”
In the letter, the lawmakers cited the surge in migrants - over 1.7 million encounters in 2021 - which has led to higher demand for border agents to mitigate the crisis.
“Despite these staffing issues, thousands of Border Patrol agents are at risk of losing their jobs because of your ill-conceived policy,” they wrote. “This mandate is wholly incongruent with the principles of individual choice and medical freedom, puts families in our districts at risk of financial ruin, and threatens our national security by flooding our communities with undocumented, unvetted migrants.”
“Sadly, while we have seen countless members of your own party malign our Border Patrol agents for years, punishing these agents for their personal medical choices would constitute a full-frontal assault on our border agents and further reinforce your utter abandonment of our southern border,” they continued.
They called on Biden to “immediately” terminate the vaccine mandate for border agents “or any first responder tasked with securing our border and addressing the ongoing border crisis.”
They also requested that the White House provide information on vaccination rates for Border Patrol agents, as well as those who have natural immunity after already contracting COVID-19.