The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) awarded a massive sum to a nonprofit for migrant detention at six hotels, but $17 million “went largely unused,” while the agency oddly accepted an unsolicited contract proposal while not considering others, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
ICE has been using housing for detained family units since 2001, an inspector general report says. Amid a migrant surge in March 2021 and the anticipation of more to come, the federal agency entered into a $86.9 million contract with the nonprofit Endeavors for a six-month period. The money was for 1,239 beds and other hotel services in Texas and Arizona.
“ICE did not 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 inspector general report found. “ICE’s sole source contract with Endeavors resulted in millions of dollars spent on unused hotel space.”
As opposed to following the government’s competitive procurement process, ICE awarded the nonprofit with a sole contract after receiving an unsolicited proposal. Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation, government contracts are required to be awarded through an open competitive process.
It is typical for an agency to weigh proposals from contractors following a government request, but ICE neglected this process and said the “unusual and compelling urgency” of the migrant situation required accepting Endeavors’ offer, according to the report.
ICE claimed that Endeavors “was the only known source capable” to fulfill the thousands of migrant beds but the DHS found no proof of this. The inspector general report notes that ICE used a different contractor in 2021 for housing services, but that the contractor and others were not given the opportunity to submit proposals.
“Based on our analysis of ICE’s justification for sole sourcing the contract to Endeavors, we determined ICE did not have supporting documentation to establish that Endeavors was the only contractor that could provide the services needed,” the report states. “ICE records showed that Endeavors had no experience providing the services covered by the sole source contract, including hotel beds or all-inclusive emergency family residential services.
ICE did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire.
Of the $17 million allocated for hotel space and services, roughly $16.98 million was spent on unused beds at hotels, the report found. At an El Paso, Texas, hotel, there was an average usage of only 21% from April to June 2021 — and 45% at a Phoenix hotel.
The report also found that Endeavors did not test migrants for COVID-19 and that “ICE standards to ensure proper care” in facilities were not followed.
“For example, families were not tested by ICE for COVID-19 prior to being transported to hotels and were not always tested by Endeavors staff upon arrival at or departure from hotels, putting migrant families and the outside population at risk of contracting COVID-19,” according to DHS.
The news comes amid reports of a record-breaking surge of migrants expected at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Biden administration moved to roll back Title 42 this month — which is a Trump-era policy responsible for deporting nearly 1.7 million migrants — a policy that allows immigration officials to turn away immigrants due to COVID-19.