The Biden administration is set to spend $86.9 million to house family units unlawfully crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed to The Epoch Times.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tae D. Johnson said a short-term contract was awarded to Endeavors, a San Antonio, Texas-based non-profit organization, 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.”
“The $86.9 million contract provides 1,239 beds and other necessary services. The families will receive a comprehensive health assessment that includes COVID-19 testing,” the statement reads. “Our border is not open. The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority.”
News of the site was first reported by Axios. The news outlet reported that some family units will be placed in hotels, and that the $86.9 million will be used to secure hotel rooms near border areas, including Arizona and Texas.
The Biden administration’s move to shelter migrant families comes as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas disclosed that the nation is facing the biggest surge in illegal immigrants crossing the southern border in 20 years. According to a report by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of family units presenting themselves or being captured at the border more than doubled between January and February.
Mayorkas, who has refused to describe the situation at the border a crisis, said in a March 16 statement that his department has activated the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has leased a convention center in Dallas to hold up to 3,000 unaccompanied minors, or children who unlawfully enter the United States without an adult.
“In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian,” he said, describing the process for lodging unaccompanied minors pending their immigration proceedings. “These are children being reunited with their families who will care for them.”
Hotels have been utilized as detention facilities, including last year, when the DHS placed more than 600 unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border in 25 hotels in three states before their expulsion. The decision to use hotels to temporarily house unaccompanied minors was part of then-President Donald Trump’s Title 42 policy, which aimed to limit the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus into the United States through illegal border crossings.
The practice was called off in September 2020, however, when a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled DHS must cease placing children in hotels, and that the department must transfer all minors, accompanied or not, from hotels into “licensed facilities.”
The ruling was later upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, citing what’s known as the “Flores Agreement,” a settlement the U.S. government made in 1997. Under the deal, children who were apprehended for entering the United States illegally must be transferred to a “licensed program” within three days with guaranteed access to attorneys, and must be released within 20 days to a sponsor in the community or an alternative-to-detention program.