Nearly 22,000 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees have sought exemptions to the U.S. government’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but the requests all remain in limbo, according to newly obtained documents.
Key agencies within DHS could face a massive loss of workers if the requests aren’t resolved, a watchdog warns.
More than 8,100 Customs and Border Protection employees, who include Border Patrol agents, have asked for a medical or religious exemption to the mandate that was imposed by President Joe Biden in 2021. In addition, over 5,800 Transportation Security Administration workers have requested accommodations, while more than 2,800 Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees have sought exemptions on religious or medical grounds.
None of the requests have been acted upon yet, DHS told the Functional Government Initiative (FGI), the watchdog that obtained the data.
Biden ordered agencies to implement the mandate in September 2021. While the government workers were told to get vaccinated, they were also advised that they could apply for medical or religious exemptions.
The Biden administration was sued over the mandate, with lawsuits alleging it was unconstitutional. Feds for Medical Freedom, a group of government workers, filed one of the suits.
The group won an injunction against the mandate in January. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown, a Trump appointee, said the mandate fell outside of the president’s powers.
The government’s vaccine workforce, based on the ruling, told agencies to “take no action to implement or enforce” the mandate.
In compliance with the injunction, “DHS halted the review process and has not taken any action to implement or enforce the vaccination requirement” as of Jan. 24, Rosemary Law, a DHS Freedom of Information Act officer, told FGI in documents reviewed by The Epoch Times.
That means no exemptions have been granted, she indicated.
The watchdog asserts the government should continue
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