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22,000 DHS Employees Seek Exemption from Vaccine Mandate

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

According to newly obtained documents, there are nearly 22,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees that are seeking exemptions to the U.S. government’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. However, none of these requests have been granted as of yet, and the issue still remains undecided.

If these requests remain unresolved, the agencies which fall under the DHS could face a mass exodus of workers according to the watchdog agency, Functional Government Initiative (FGI).

There are an estimated 8,100 employees who work for Customs and Border Protection which include Border Patrol agents, who have requested medical and/or religious exemptions from taking the controversial Covid-19 shot that had been mandated by Joe Biden in 2021. There are also an estimated 5,800 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers who have requested accommodations, and 2,800 Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees who have also requested an exemption on religious and medical grounds.  None of these requests have been addressed, nor have they been granted. 

The mandate was meant to be implemented in September 2021, which was ordered by Biden. Even though government workers were being mandated to take the shot, they were also advised that they had the option to apply for an exemption on religious or medical grounds. The Biden administration was sued over the vaccine mandate on the grounds that the mandate was unconstitutional. One of the groups that filed a suit against the administration was Feds for Medical Freedom, which is made up of a group of federal workers.  The case came before Judge Jeffrey Brown, who is a Trump appointee, and he ruled that the mandate fell outside of the president’s powers. 

Based on the ruling by Judge Brown, the government vaccine workforce had been advised to “take no action to implement or enforce” the mandate.

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Rosemary Law, who is a DHS Freedom of Information Act officer, told FGI that as of January 24th, “DHS halted the review process and has not taken any action to implement or enforce the vaccination requirement”. This also means that no exemptions have been granted as well. 

Functional Government Initiative maintains that the government needs to continue processing these requests so that employees will know if they are in danger of termination from their jobs.

“They absolutely should have been processing these so that the people who have filled out these exemption requests kind of have an idea of where it’s going to go because, right now, we have 22,000 people wondering if they’re going to have a job,” said Pete McGinnis, a spokesman for FGI.

Many of these employees who are seeking an exemption work on immigration matters, which includes thousands who are currently stationed at or near the U.S.–Mexico border. Biden and his administration are already in over their heads with the illegal immigration crisis at the border that is unprecedented. The number of arrests at the border is staggering and firing immigration officers who have legally put in for an exemption from the shot would make an overwhelmingly bad situation even worse. 

Other divisions of DHS that are also requesting exemption from the shot are more than 1,700 at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly 1,300 at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 680 with the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 500 at the U.S. Secret Service, 333 at DHS headquarters, 167 at Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, and just over 100 with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. All are still waiting for exemption status while they wonder if they will have a job.