“We are saddened by this terrible loss, and immensely grateful for Mary’s contributions and every single person contributing to this effort serving unaccompanied children,” Becerra wrote.
The Biden administration has spent weeks calling for federal volunteers to respond to the surge of unaccompanied children at the border. Officials have appealed to a range of staffers, including employees who work in far-flung divisions like the Federal Trade Commission and have limited health care or human services expertise, to support the expanding effort and staff the shelters.
“For those of you weighing how you can make an impact, let me assure you that your help is needed now more than ever,” Tom Coderre, the acting assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, wrote in an April 1 division-wide email obtained by The Post. “Secretary Bacerra [sic.] has put out the call for as many staff as possible to volunteer. In fact HHS has a goal to place 1000 staff on this effort in the coming days.”
Brodie-Henderson was normally assigned to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the department’s chief information officer, according to the HHS directory.
HHS on Saturday also abruptly moved to close the Houston shelter and transfer children to other facilities. It was not immediately clear if there was a connection between Brodie-Henderson’s death on Friday and the decision to close the shelter.
HHS officials said there was no connection between the two events.
White House officials also have pressed HHS to ramp up its response in recent days, three administration officials told The Post, noting that more than 100,000 additional unaccompanied migrant children are projected to arrive at the border this year and be placed in HHS custody. The White House is weighing assigning more staff to HHS to support the department’s efforts, Politico reported on Friday.