Just in case we haven’t lit enough piles of cash on fire during the first 15 months of President Joe Biden’s administration, an inspector general report found that it awarded a massive no-bid contract to a nonprofit organization to provide hotel rooms for illegal immigrants — only to see much of that money wasted.
According to the Daily Wire, a report last week from the Office of the Inspector General revealed that $17 million of the $86.9 million awarded to the nonprofit to provide space for detained families “went largely unused” and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement awarded the group’s unsolicited proposal a stamp of approval without going through the required open competitive process government contracts follow.
(This is hardly the only waste of money we’ve seen from the Biden administration. Here at The Western Journal, we’ve been documenting the debt this White House’s disastrous spending habits are shackling our children with. We’ll make sure Americans are armed with the info they need about this president’s profligate spending — and you can help us by subscribing.)
Maintaining housing to detain migrant families isn’t a new phenomenon; the report notes it began in 2001. However, it only maintains three family residential centers, and the report states that “[i]n early 2021, ICE anticipated another surge in migrant families crossing the southern border into the United States and believed the existing housing infrastructure of the FRCs would be insufficient to handle the anticipated influx.”
Thus, they awarded a six-month contract to San Antonio, Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors to provide 1,239 beds in hotels in Texas and Arizona.
The award was a “sole source,” or no-bid, contract.
“Sole source contracts are used when an agency can demonstrate that the contract meets specific and justified criteria, such as: the executive agency’s need for the property or services is of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the Federal Government would be seriously injured unless the executive agency is permitted to limit the number of sources from which it solicits bids or proposals,” the report noted.
“If contracts do not meet one of the criteria, they must be awarded through an open competitive process.”
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While ICE claimed the contract was of “unusual and compelling urgency” due to the border crisis, the facts don’t quite bear that out.
At one El Paso, Texas, hotel contracted by Endeavors, the usage rate from April to June 2021 was 21 percent. That was the lowest occupancy of the lot; the highest was an average of 45 percent at a Phoenix hotel.
“As a result, ICE spent $16.98 million for unused beds at the hotels between April and June 2021,” the report declared.
Beyond that, the inspector general’s report found the three family residential centers would have been more than adequate, given the task. Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2021, the only two which were fully open ran at averages of 18 and 23 percent capacity, respectively. (A third, which was only occupied for January and February, had a 6 percent capacity rate.)
Even with ICE guidance necessitating only 75 percent capacity for the family residential centers due to social distancing, that put all of them well under capacity.
ICE’s other justifications for the no-bid contract were similarly flawed, the inspector general concluded.
While ICE said Endeavors “was the only known source capable” to procure the beds necessary, the report noted ICE had used a different contractor during 2021 for housing services, yet they weren’t invited to submit a bid — nor were any other potential contractors.
“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 concluded.
“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.”
In addition to there being zero justification for the no-bid contract, there were other issues with Endeavors’ performance; the nonprofit disregarded “ICE standards to ensure the proper care” in the hotels.
“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,” the report read.
The worrying subtext contained in this report, of course, is what happens when Title 42 protections end next month.
Since March of 2020, illegal immigrants have been summarily expelled from the United States without an asylum hearing under the World War II-era portion of the public code which allows for individuals to be denied entry into the United States during times of communicable disease.
While initially invoked under former President Donald Trump’s administration, the Biden administration has kept it in place, for the most part. Earlier this month, they announced they would be allowing it to expire.
This sets all sorts of very bad things into motion in regards to the border crisis. While the money that’s going to have to be wasted on poorly considered stopgap measures like this to deal with the likely chaos the policy change will cause isn’t on the front-burner right now, this report should highlight a larger truth: The administration has never had a long-term plan to deal with illegal immigration, and they don’t appear to be starting now.
As your dad always told you, failure to plan is planning to fail, and failure — among other things — costs money. If you think $17 million on unused hotel rooms looks bad now, the likelihood this looks positively quaint in a few months is pretty high.