Border Agents Helped By Locals to Survive Shutdown with Free Meals
Locals from California to Texas have stepped up to assist Border Patrol agents
Locals from California to Texas have stepped up to assist Border Patrol agents throughout the Government shut down with free meals, zero-interest loans, and even yoga classes, according to reports.
Nonprofit organizations and local business were amongst those supporting the Department of Homeland Security personnel while they continued to protect the border.
While the Transportation Security Administration has seen may employees call in sick, border agents seem to be staying on the job.
"Although I don't have official agency numbers, it is my understanding that call-outs or sick leave are at or near the same levels as in similar times in years past," National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd wrote on Monday.
"We certainly aren't experiencing the same level of call-outs as TSA. As far as I'm aware, and again that is without official numbers, we have the same workforce reporting for duty under the shutdown as we regularly do under normal circumstances."
Warren Walter, a sheriff in Hidalgo County, N.M., said he has continued to see Border Patrol agents based out of Lordsburg Station running around his county, according to the Washington Examiner
“They’re not taking sick days,” Walter said during a meeting in Lordsburg.
“We see 'em going up and down the roads … still working.”
According to the Washington Examiner, here are some of the support agents are getting:
In southwestern New Mexico, the counties of Grant, Hidalgo, and Luna have teamed up to throw a “Shutdown Shindig" on the campus of Western New Mexico University this Friday.
The school is hosting the free event, which will include dinner, dancing, games, and door prizes, according to an invitation.
A much larger county in the state, Dona Ana, has seen an uptick in illegal immigrant activities, which has kept border patrol workers busy even though they aren't being paid.
Dona Ana stated Monday it would not terminate water and gas service for agents or other workers even if they cannot make payments when they are due.
The Casa de Peregrinos food pantry is giving out free food to stricken workers, and Peace Lutheran Church and Andele Restaurant in Las Cruces, N.M., hosted an Appreciation Dinner Sunday night and gave out food and gift cards to unpaid border workers.
New Mexico Highlands University took another approach to help people and granted free admission for its eight-week, two-credit Introduction to Geospatial Technology class. As of Monday, the class had filled up and was no longer taking students.
Downtown Desert Yoga and Dwellyoga are offering some free classes to border agents.
"The reason a lot of people are drawn to yoga is it gives them an opportunity to get out of their head ... and let go of some of the worries and doubt they're experiencing," Downtown Desert Yoga owner Colleen Boyd told the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Operation HOPE says they’re expecting about 400 families this morning and while it was a lot of work in 2 days, they’ll be happy to help families this morning. pic.twitter.com/Zo8UsnY9Pa— Simon Williams (@SimonKFOX_CBS) January 17, 2019
In New Mexico, nearly 11,000 residents are federal workers from DHS, Interior, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services and have either been furloughed or are working without pay.
The state’s Department of Workforce Solutions announced it would allow agents and other federal workers to apply for unemployment benefits.
The state dismissed the normal requirements of having to search for work to get paid. As of Jan. 14, 1,200 had signed up. Workers do have to pay back the state once the shutdown ends, after which they will receive their full pay.
The city of Lordsburg told affected workers to contact the utility city clerk’s office to dodge any interruptions in service or late payment fees.
The move is similar to other initiatives border towns are taking to help federal law enforcement.
"The City of Lordsburg provides water, gas, sewer, and garbage. They are working with federal agents and agencies to waive any late fees and allowing them to make payment arrangements without any penalty or disconnect fear,” Hidalgo County Manager Tisha Green said in an email Monday.
New Mexico Gas Company and the Public Service Company of New Mexico have also asked workers to contact them if they are without pay to avoid having their service suspended.
Texas has 5,684 DHS employees affected by the shutdown, including Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers.
FirstLight Federal Credit Union in West Texas is offering payment extension programs, free early withdrawals of CDs, and zero percent annual percentage rate emergency loans, according to a news release.
White Sands Federal Credit Union, which has branches near the border in New Mexico and Texas, is allowing federal workers to skip loan payments and is giving nonmembers who refinance their loans a 90-day delay for making the first payment.
El Paso County Commissioner Carl Robinson and Operation HOPE, or Helping Other People Endure, held a food drive for 400 families in El Paso last Thursday.
Out west in Arizona, some border town restaurants are offering free meals to alleviate the financial stress on agents.
Waldo’s BBQ in Mesa and Gilbert is giving free meals away on Thursday, while Barrio Cafe in Phoenix, RigaToni’s in Tempe, and Riot Hospitality Group restaurants in Scottsdale are giving free meals to federal workers who bring in their $0 paycheck any day of the week.
Justice Brothers U-Pick in Arizona is handing out free bags of citrus fruit, and Dickson Farm in San Diego is handing out a free bag of produce.
On the Arizona-California state border, Imperial County is trying to educate agents and others on the various types of assistance available to them.
The Department of Social Services held a workshop last week to inform federal workers of the food support, unemployment benefits, loans, and mortgage help those in the community had made available.