Illegal immigrants who are flooding the border in numbers beyond what government facilities can hold will be housed in hotels in Arizona and Texas.
The Biden administration will spend $86 million on the plan through a six-month contract with Endeavors, a nonprofit based in Texas, according to Axios.
The so-called “family reception sites” will be established at seven different brand-name hotels, according to Reuters, which cited two unnamed sources.
The hotel sites will open in April, Reuters reported, and will offer COVID-19 testing, medical care, food services, social workers and case management officers. It is unclear if those put up at the hotels will be monitored.
The contract could be extended depending upon circumstances at the border, where numbers of migrants who crossed illegally in family groups rose from 7,000 in January to 19,000 in February, according to Axios.
Since January, more than 13,000 family members have been allowed to stay in the U.S., with many released into communities, Axios reported.
The scope of the crisis at the border was recently categorized by The Washington Post as the Biden administration “scrambling to control the biggest surge in 20 years, with the nation on pace for as many as 2 million migrants at the southern border this year — the outcome Biden said he wanted to avoid.“
The Post noted that, “The situation at the border — which Biden and his advisers steadfastly refuse to call a crisis — is the result of an administration that was forewarned of the coming surge, yet still ill-prepared and lacking the capacity to deal with it. Administration officials have been plagued by muddled messaging, sometimes making appeals that seem directed more at liberal activists than the migrants they need to dissuade from coming to the country.”
“The administration also took several steps — including saying it would allow unaccompanied minors into the country — that increased the flow of migrants and encouraged more to try their luck,” The Post reported.
Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas criticized the messaging, according to The Post.
“When you create a system that incentivizes people to come across, and they are released, that immediately sends a message to Central America that if you come across you can stay,” said Gonzalez told the newspaper.
“It incentivizes droves of people to come, and the only way to slow it down is by changing policy at our doorstep. If they don’t change the policy, the flow of continued migration traffic isn’t going to stop or slow down,” he said.
Chad Wolf, who was the acting DHS secretary during the Biden transition, said Biden administration officials were made aware of the likely ramifications of their actions, according to The Post.
“It’s one thing to hear it from political appointees, but career folks were telling them the same thing. They should have been better prepared,” Wolf said. “And I know they were briefed in detail by CBP.”
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas said he also tried to warn the White House of what was taking place along the border.
“I said, ‘Hey, I just want to let you know what’s going on. We need to get a handle on this before it gets out of hand,’” he said. “Even within a week, I was already calling the White House to say, ‘Hey, guys, you’ve got to take a look at it.’ ”
The dissonance between the administration’s actions and words was fodder for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in discussing the administration’s decision to send the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the border.
“So either this is the first time FEMA has been deployed just to admire a situation that is going smoothly, or the administration is not being straight with the American people,” McConnell said.
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