US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has inked an $89.6 million contract with a Texas nonprofit to shelter Central American migrants in hotel rooms while the feds process a massive backlog of new arrivals at the border, according to the agency and reports.
The eight-figure deal was announced Saturday, as migrants continued to arrive at the border at a rate not seen in 20 years, including unaccompanied children crammed into jail-like detention centers to await transfer to federal shelters across the country.
ICE “has signed a short-term contract with the non-profit division of Endeavors to provide temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled and are therefore placed in immigration proceedings for their removal from the United States,” said ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson in a statement. “The $86.9 million contract provides 1,239 beds and other necessary services.”
The families will be put up in hotels close to the border, including in Texas and Arizona, under the deal, which is set to run six months but could be extended, Axios reported, citing officials from the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Jon Allman, CEO of the San Antonio-based Endeavors, told Fox Business that the contract includes “critical services to migrant families, which is a continuation of services we have delivered to the migrant population since 2012.”
Added Johnson, “The families will receive a comprehensive health assessment that includes COVID-19 testing.”
But even as the deal was announced, Johnson dissuaded would-be migrants from making the dangerous and illegal trek across the border, warning that most people would be turned around under coronavirus precautions.
“Our border is not open,” said Johnson. “The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority.”
Since President Biden was inaugurated and began repealing the more restrictive immigration policies of his predecessor, migrants have flocked to the border with increasing frequency, with many expecting to be welcomed by the commander-in-chief.
Administration officials have struggled to keep up with the humanitarian and security crisis — and been reluctant to even publicly recognize it as such.