The Biden administration has awarded ICE an $86.9 million contract for hotel rooms near the border to provide temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled from the United States but have been placed in immigration proceedings for their removal.
The contract, through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors, provides 1,239 beds and "other necessary services." The families will receive a comprehensive health assessment, including COVID-19 testing. The announcement comes days after White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday that the White House planned to provide 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico.
Endeavors president and CEO Jon Allman confirmed the contract with DHS to provide "critical services to migrant families, which is a continuation of services we have delivered to the migrant population since 2012." Allman deferred questions regarding specific details about the contract to ICE.
Other services provided by Endeavors for migrant families navigating the U.S. immigration process include victim services, therapeutic regiments, educational resources and mental health care. Endeavors also offers culturally appropirate, trauma-informed, child-centered case management, home study, and post-release services for unaccompanied children and their sponsors.
According to data released by the Customs and Border Protection, the number of migrant family members caught crossing the southwest border more than doubled between January and February.
Around 7,000 migrant families were caught in January compared to nearly 19,000 migrant families in February. Meanwhile, unaccompanied children and single minors caught crossing the southwest border increased from 5,694 in January to 9,297 in February.
ICE acting director Tae Johnson emphasized in a statement that the border is "not open."
"The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority,” Johnson added.