Hotel rooms

ICE wasted $17 million on empty hotel rooms for migrants: DHS watchdog

Immigration officials wasted $17 million on unused hotels for migrants last year after hiring a politically connected contractor who failed to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, a government watchdog has found. .

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has entered into an $87 million contract with the nonprofit Endeavors to provide services to the influx of migrants at the southern border, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general said. in a report released Tuesday.

ICE should have solicited multiple bids for the work, instead of signing the ‘sole-source’ agreement with Endeavours, which required the agency to pay for a block of more than 1,200 hotel rooms, regardless of the number used, found the watchdog.

As a result of the alleged blunder, the government was contractually obligated to pay Endeavors $17 million for hotel rooms that were mostly empty between April and June 2021, according to the report.

“ICE’s sole-source contract with Endeavors resulted in millions of dollars being spent on unused hotel space,” it read.

Additionally, Endeavors puts “migrant families and the outside population at risk of contracting COVID-19” by not following testing procedures before transporting migrants, officials said.

Surveillance footage shows dozens of migrants being processed at an Endeavors-owned hotel in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2021.
Office of the Inspector General / Department of Homeland Security

The Texas-based nonprofit also failed to provide snacks and storage areas for migrant families, as required by ICE guidelines, the Office of Inspector General said. Uneven monitoring and document security at migrant facilities run by Endeavors was another concern, according to the report.

The alleged mismanagement came around the same time Endeavors entered into another, more lucrative, no-tender contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services. The deal raised eyebrows as it was reached after the organization hired Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, a member of the Biden administration’s transition team, as senior director of migrant services and federal affairs. .

ICE disagreed with much of the report and said it was justified in rushing the contract without a tender because of the “unusual and compelling urgency” of the border crisis. immigrants.

Video shows a migrant family arriving for a COVID-19 protocol check at an Endeavors-owned hotel in El Paso, Texas in May 2021.
Video shows a migrant family arriving for a COVID-19 protocol check at an Endeavors-owned hotel in El Paso, Texas in May 2021.
Office of the Inspector General / Department of Homeland Security

“ICE is committed to ensuring that non-nationals in its custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments, and under appropriate containment conditions,” an agency official wrote in a March letter to DHS.

Endeavors said it was “following proper protocols and meeting the standard of care for migrant families in this contract,” in a statement to Fox News.