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A migrant girl from Central America in Brownsville, Texas. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is calling for volunteers from across the federal government to help care for the growing number of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a memo sent to federal agencies by the Office of Personnel Management, obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The request underscores just how overwhelmed government resources have become with more than 17,000 migrant minors in its custody, including over 5,000 in border patrol facilities unfit for minors. The number keeps rising.

  • The Department of Homeland Security already has called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and recruited other DHS volunteers to help at the border.

Details: The latest OPM request asks for volunteers to “lend support to this humanitarian effort” of caring for and placing unaccompanied minors in inappropriate housing.

  • Volunteers would temporarily work for the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement for up to 120 days, and volunteers can be deployed to one of several facilities along the southwest border.
  • During the 2019 crisis, the the Trump administration also called for volunteers from other agencies to help Customs and Border Protection.
  • Buzzfeed News first reported the Biden administration's move.

The big picture: HHS has already announced plans to open multiple overflow facilities to hold migrant kids, and is moving to open up to two more sites on military bases which could add over 5,000 beds, as CNN reported.

  • The agency has also expedited the process for releasing some migrant kids to parents or other guardians already in the U.S.
  • Still, the number of children and teens waiting in border patrol facilities unfit for minors continues to grow. As of Thursday, there were more than 5,000 children in border facilities.

Go deeper

Texas Democrat: Close border to some minors

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas). Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Filemon Vela, a Texas Democrat and early supporter of President Biden, is urging the White House to adopt a short-term solution to the migration surge in his district: turn away older teenagers.

Why it matters: It's another indication the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border isn't politically or logistically tenable — especially for the people living there.

Biden calls border situation normal: "It happens every single solitary year"

President Biden on Thursday during his first presidential press briefing argued that the uptick in migrants arriving at America's southern border is cyclical, saying, "It happens every single solitary year."

What he's saying: Biden contended that the cooler winter months provide conditions for migrants to flee their home countries. But data shows that immigration numbers are higher than usual, and unaccompanied minors are arriving at rates that outpace border facilities' resources.

House race shows Latino pushback over migrant increase

Sedillo López and Reyes in New Mexico. Photos via campaigns

This story is from Axios Latino, a new collaboration with Noticias Telemundo that launches today. Sign up here.

A special election to fill Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's former House seat is revealing growing frustration among Latino candidates about the Biden administration's handling of rising migration at the southern border.

Why it matters: The dynamics in this race in a Democratic-leaning and heavily Hispanic central New Mexico district representing Albuquerque could be an early indicator of how Latino voters assess President Biden's performance in office.