Biden Admin Spent $86.9 Million Housing Migrants in Hotels

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"P20210121AS-0354-2" (United States government work) by The White House

Republican Senator demands answers from the Biden administration over $86.9 million spendings to house 1,200 migrant families in hotel rooms. 

An inquiry was sent to the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) over the $86.9 million expenditure in housing over 1,200 migrant families in hotel rooms. 

Earlier this month, the Biden administration awarded ICE an $86.9 million contract through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors for hotel rooms near the border to provide temporary shelter and processing services for migrants who have been expelled from the United States but have been placed in immigration proceedings for their removal. 

However, Blackburn is questioning the nonprofit’s past financial disclosure and how the funds will be used in a letter that was sent to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and ICE acting Director Tae Johnson. 

Blackburn added that in 2018, Endeavors brought in “over $38 million in contributions and grants.” She also noted that “IRS filings show that nearly $22 million or almost half of those contributions went to salaries.”

The GOP senator wrote, “This raises questions if half of the $86.9 million in ICE contract proceeds will likewise be allocated toward the employee and executive compensation instead of migrant services or housing.”

Blackburn wrote. “As the current contract stands, the cost to taxpayers for housing 1,200 migrant families for six months is about $71,000 per person.” She added, “For a family of four, that amounts to a shocking $284,000 — enough to buy a small house.”

Accordingly, the ICE contract with Endeavors provides 1,239 beds as well as “other necessary services” for families. The budget also allegedly includes comprehensive health assessment and COVID-19 testing. Endeavors also provided services for migrant families navigating the U.S. immigration process, such as victim services, therapeutic regimens, educational resources, and mental health care. 

On top of that, Endeavors also offers migrants culturally appropriate trauma-informed, home study, child-centered case management, and post-release services for unaccompanied children and their sponsors.

Although all of these listed services sound good, Blackburn raised concerns as to the reason why Endeavors’ CEO Jon Allman did not provide “specific details about the contract” when he was asked.

 

“NUAC5” (United States government work) by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Blackburn wrote, “It is unclear whether this nonprofit has ever previously managed a contract of this magnitude, housed a migrant population of this size or served vulnerable children without putting them at further risk,” referring to Allman’s comments earlier this month when he affirmed the contract with DHS stating that it would give “critical services to migrant families, which is a continuation of services we have delivered to the migrant population since 2012.”

However, when Allman was asked about specific details with the contract to ICE, Allman deferred.

“DHS and ICE must provide commitments to assure Congress and the American public that Endeavors is up for the task of securely and efficiently housing illegal immigrants without resulting in waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars, or worse, harming vulnerable migrant children,” the Republican senator wrote. 

In addition to this, Blackburn also asked for an unredacted copy of the $86.9 million contract as well as answers as to which hotels would provide rooms for migrants, which rates would they be charging, and whether Endeavors or DHS will be responsible for compensating the hotels.

Information about the children’s safety also raised concerns, challenging whether migrant children would “ever be placed in a situation where they are unsupervised by a parent or a guardian and left alone with an Endeavors staffer.”

Blackburn also questioned whether ICE was requiring Endeavors to administer background checks on workers and volunteers, amid reports that the Office of Refugee Resettlement between 2015 and 2019 received more than 4,500 allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment against children in facilities. Blackburn said, “178 of the complaints were against staff at the shelters.”

The Republican Senator also asked if the nonprofits would be “subject to the same rigorous security standards as private detention facilities.”

Blackburn wrote, “Does ICE have any plans to eventually eliminate private illegal immigration facilities?”

Blackburn demanded answers from Mayorkas and Johnson by April 15.