Biden Admin's $87M 'No-Bid' Migrant Housing Contract Under Investigation (Dreamstime.com)
By Charles Kim | Monday, 24 May 2021 06:17 PM
A President Joe Biden administration “no-bid” contract worth $87 million to house migrants crossing the southern border in hotels is coming under the scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.
The department’s Office of Inspector General is looking into the contract with the San Antonio-based Endeavors that places migrants that crossed the southern border into seven area hotels at an estimated cost of $352 per night, the Examiner reported.
“The decision to award a massive, no-bid contract to the nonprofit Endeavors raised many questions including how an organization with no experience working with ICE could win a non-compete contract,” House Homeland Security Committee ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y., told the Examiner. “It’s bad enough that this administration has created a self-inflicted border crisis. Its response should now be focused on reversing the misguided policies that got us here — not engaging in activity that raises significant ethical questions.”
Since taking office in January and reversing many of the policies of the previous Trump administration, the Biden administration has seen an increasing number of migrants coming across the southern border, straining the efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and the agency’s resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The March 16 contract provided $87 million to pay for “the immediate acquisition of up to 1,239 hotel beds and other necessary services for Emergency Family Reception Sites (EFRS) that will offer migrant families processing in a COVID-protective environment in response to an emergency situation along the U.S. southwest border,” according to the government’s System Award Management website.
The non-profit firm getting the money, Family Endeavors, Inc., is a faith-based organization formed in 1969 by five churches to provide social welfare services to the community, according to the company’s website.
According to the site, it provides services to veterans, migrants, and others in need throughout the region.
This contract is just one of 11 awards in 2021, according to usaspending.gov website.
The company is due to take in some $371 million this year alone, much more than its previous high of $42 million in government funding in 2018.
DHS put out a notice saying the contract was awarded without a “competitive process” because of the situation’s “urgency and need.”
Despite the notice justifying the lack of bids on the contract, DHS is also looking at the apparent connection of a top executive at the firm to the Biden-Harris Transition Team.
The day Biden was sworn in as president, January 20, the company announced the appointment of Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as its senior director for migrant services & federal affairs.
According to the company’s announcement, Lorenzen-Strait would lead a “nation-wide” team of professionals to provide services for migrants including, unaccompanied children, single adults, and families.
His responsibilities also include working with the government to advance “our mission and core values through federal government program development and procurement opportunities in the nation’s capital.”
“We are fortunate to gain a leader with Andrew’s expertise and vision,” Endeavors President and CEO Jon Allman said in the announcement. “As we continue to grow as an organization, we are confident Andrew will support us in building better partnerships, transforming the communities we serve, and ensure our new programs and services are a first-class experience for the people using them.”
The company said he was a “recognized expert” with more than 15 years’ experience in migrant protection and advocacy, including work with ICE, DHS, and the Department of Justice.
The Examiner reported, however, that Lorenzen-Strait also worked on the transition team of the incoming president, which could demonstrate a conflict of interest.
According to the Examiner, House and Senate lawmakers contacted both ICE and DHS with questions about the contract and Lorenzen-Strait’s appointment at Endeavors after working on Biden’s transition team.