A watchdog says the federal immigration agency paid for several hotel rooms in Arizona and Texas last year that went unused.
PHOENIX — Immigration and Customs Enforcement may have spent nearly $17 million on empty hotel rooms in Arizona and Texas that were supposed to accommodate a wave of migrants entering the United States, according to a monitoring report published this month.
The Office of Inspector General found that ICE may have contracted too many hotel rooms that the agency said were needed to accommodate migrant families in the spring of 2021.
Early last year, ICE expected to receive a stream of new families crossing the US-Mexico border, and officers needed a place to shelter them while they were processed.
ICE entered into an $87 million contract with Endeavors, a faith-based aid group, to use 1,239 beds at the organization’s multiple facilities in Arizona and Texas.
OIG investigators found that many contract beds at these facilities sat unused between April and June 2021. None of the facilities used more than half the number of beds paid for by ICE under its contract. , according to the OIG report.
One of the hotels in Phoenix had an average utilization rate of 45%. The total cost of all unused beds was estimated at nearly $17 million.
“ICE failed to adequately justify the need for the sole-source contract to house migrant families and spent approximately $17 million for hotel space and services at six hotels that went largely unused between April and June 2021,” the report said.
The OIG also blamed ICE and Endeavors for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.
“Endeavors medical staff failed to properly document healthcare encounters as required by medical protocols, including inconsistent documentation of sick call encounters and insufficient documentation of discharge assessments,” says The report.
Inspectors recommended that ICE conduct a full housing needs assessment of the agency’s migrant families before entering into a similar contract for additional beds.
In response to the OIG report, ICE said it disagreed with some of the assertions outlined in the report and insisted the agency followed “appropriate contracting processes and policies.” .
Additionally, ICE said it has no plans to extend the housing contract, and most hotels were demobilized in December.
VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: Informe: ICE wasted $17 million in hotel vacations in Arizona and Texas for immigrants
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