Hotels are pulling out of Biden’s $87 million contract to house migrants amid political pushback, report says

us-mexico border migrant children
Central American asylum seekers arrive to a bus station after being released by U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 26, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas.

  • The Biden administration secured an $87 million contract to house migrants at hotels.
  • Some of those hotels have backed out as debates over the border surge continue, Axios reported.
  • The US is experiencing the biggest surge on its southern border in 20 years.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Four hotels have backed out of plans to house migrants under a Biden administration contract, Axios reported Friday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed in a statement to Insider last month that it had secured an $86.9 million contract with the non-profit Endeavors 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 statement said Endeavors, which has programs that include housing services and disaster relief, would secure 1,239 beds in addition to other services. Families would also receive COVID-19 testing.

“Our border is not open,” ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson said. “The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority.”

Read more: Biden’s immigration messaging is fine – the problem is his policies don’t back up his ‘don’t come’ message

Axios reported the hotels that backed out of the plans were in Texas and Arizona and were set to house around 600 migrants. They were a Woodspring Suites, a Hampton Inn by Hilton, a Microtel by Wyndham, and a Best Western.

Endeavors told Axios alternative hotels have already been secured.

Hotels have been used by immigration officials before, including last year, when hundreds of migrants, including children, were held in major hotel chains before being deported under President Donald Trump’s pandemic border ban.

In recent months, President Joe Biden’s administration has struggled to address a surge of migrants, mostly families and children, at the southern border.

The US is on track to see up to 2 million migrants there this year, amid the biggest surge in two decades, The Washington Post reported. The surge is putting a heavy strain on government resources and border towns.

Republicans have blamed Biden’s actions and rhetoric for the surge, which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called a “Biden border crisis.” Meanwhile, Biden has publicly tried to urge people from Central America to not travel to the US and stay where they are.

The White House has declined to refer to the situation as a “crisis” despite criticism from Republicans.

US officials told Reuters last week that Biden’s aides are increasingly frustrated with the situation and believe migrant children are not being released quickly enough from Department of Health and Human Services custody.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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AOC says referring to migrants coming to the US as a ‘surge’ is a white supremacist dog whistle

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a news conference in the Queens borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.

  • AOC said talking about migrants at the US-Mexico border as a “surge” pushes a white supremacist idea.
  • “It’s not a border crisis. It’s an imperialism crisis, it’s a climate crisis, it’s a trade crisis,” she said.
  • A rise in migrants and children crossing the border is a challenge for the Biden administration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday said that referring to the rise in border crossings over the past few months as a “surge” or “invasion” smacks of white supremacy.

“So much of our national conversation, which is not a conversation, about immigration, is driven by people who could not care less about immigrants. So often, people want to say, ‘Why aren’t you talking about the border crisis?’ or ‘Why aren’t you talking about it in this way?’ Well, we’re talking about it, they just don’t like how we’re talking about it,” she said while answering questions on her Instagram Story.

“It’s not a border crisis. It’s an imperialism crisis, it’s a climate crisis, it’s a trade crisis, and also, it’s a carceral crisis,” she added, arguing that the US’ foreign policy legacy in Central America, its trade policies, and its contributions to global climate change have disproportionately affected the global South.

Read more: The MAGA messaging on immigration is scaring the hell out of some conservatives as millions of newly naturalized citizens will soon be joining the American electorate

Ocasio-Cortez also pointed out other issues with using the word “surge.”

“Anyone who’s using the word ‘surge’ around you, consciously, is trying to invoke a militaristic frame. And that’s a problem. Because this is not a surge, these are children,” she said. “And they are not insurgents. And we are not being invaded, which, by the way, is a white supremacist idea, philosophy, the idea that if an ‘other’ is coming in the population, that this is an invasion of who we are.”

Early Wednesday, freshman GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene accused Ocasio-Cortez of “lying” and “being a racist,” in connecting the terms “surge” to white supremacy.

The rate of encounters between border patrol officers and migrants crossing the US-Mexico border began increasing in the later months of the Trump administration and continued to rise during the first months of President Joe Biden’s administration, the Associated Press reported.

The makeup of migrants crossing the border has also included a larger share of families and children, who are subject to higher legal protections and standards than adults migrating or seeking asylum alone.

Biden has made explicit public calls discouraging potential migrants from crossing the border to the US, but his administration is still contending with how to cope with the current immigration situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Biden administration has come under scrutiny from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle as well as immigration experts and advocates over the conditions that migrant children are facing in government custody.

In Biden’s first news conference as president on March 25, reporters pressed the president on the current conditions at the border and the media’s level of access to facilities where migrants are being held.

After giving an NBC crew exclusive access to a facility run by the Department of Health and Human Services where children are being kept in custody, the administration allowed reporters from CBS News and the Associated Press into the main facility Department of Homeland Security facility in Donna, Texas on March 30.

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Biden is spending $86 million on hotel rooms for migrants as his administration struggles to handle the surge of families and kids trying to come to the US

us-mexico border migrant children
Central American asylum seekers arrive to a bus station after being released by U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 26, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas.

  • The Biden administration is struggling to address the influx of migrants at the southern border.
  • Now the administration is spending $86 million on hotel rooms to house migrants near the border.
  • Biden has publicly urged migrants not to travel to the US, but the surge is expected to grow.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden’s administration has secured an $86 million contract for hotels to house migrants, Axios reported Saturday. The contract comes as the president struggles to address the surging numbers of families and kids trying to enter the US.

The contract is with hotels near the border in Arizona and Texas to hold about 1,200 migrants, and will last six months. It was made through Endeavors, a non-profit with programs that include housing services and disaster relief.

Hotels have been used by immigration officials before, including last year, when hundreds of migrants, including children, were held in major hotel chains before being deported under President Donald Trump’s pandemic border ban.

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The latest decision to secure hotel rooms comes as the US is seeing the biggest surge of migrants at the border in decades, pacing towards a potential 2 million migrants at the US-Mexico border this year, The Washington Post reported. The surge is putting a heavy strain on government resources and border towns.

Upon taking office, Biden sought to portray his immigration policies as more humane and empathetic, immediately revoking several Trump-era immigration policies. Biden also offered a plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US.

Republicans have blamed Biden’s actions and rhetoric for the surge, which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called a “Biden border crisis.” Meanwhile, Biden has publicly tried to urge people from Central America to not travel to the US and stay where they are.

As of Saturday, there were 5,000 unaccompanied children being held by US Customs and Border Protection in jail-like facilities, CNN reported. More than 600 children have been detained for longer than 10 days, in violation of the law.

Unaccompanied children are supposed to be moved from the custody of CBP within 72 hours and transferred to a shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Post reported thousands of children are instead being held by CBP for 107 hours on average, before being transferred.

According to the Associated Press, the numbers of encounters with families and kids at the border are currently lower than they were at different times during the last administration, including spring 2019. But experts have warned that the current surge is still rising and will likely peak in May, based on past surge patterns, CNN reported.

In addition to trying to manage the border surge, the Biden administration is also working on sweeping immigration legislation that would address ongoing problems.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden wants to send migrants to the northern US border amid effort to wrangle those arriving at the southern border

us-mexico border migrant children
Central American asylum seekers arrive to a bus station after being released by U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 26, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas.

  • US Customs and Border Patrol wants to fly migrants to processing sites up north.
  • There’s been an influx of migrants arriving at the southern US border, with a lag in processing.
  • The Biden administration has already sent FEMA there to assist.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden’s administration is looking to fly migrants arriving at the US southern border to processing facilities in northern and coastal states, as the US deals with an influx of people seeking shelter in the US, The Washington Post reported.

The Post spoke to two Department of Homeland Security officials and reviewed an email that showed US Customs and Border Protection requesting planes to transport migrants as 1,000 people including unaccompanied minors crossed the Rio Grande on Friday morning.

It’s not clear which states they want to send the migrants to, but The Post reported many northern states do not have the capacity to process that many people.

There are an additional 1,000 people who could not be processed since last night, The Post said.

Biden’s administration has already mobilized Federal Emergency Management Agency to help handle the influx at the border, which recent CBP data suggests is similar to the surge of migration in 2019 when hundreds of thousands of migrant families sought asylum.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration also transported migrants from the southern border to facilities that had space to hold them in other parts of the country, The Post reported.

Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the US is on pace to see more people at the US-Mexico border “than we have in the last 20 years.”

This comes as the Biden administration faces criticism for the continued severe overcrowding at migrant holding facilities, a relic of the Trump administration, that Biden promised to undo.

One New York Times report found over 1,360 migrant children were held for longer than the mandatory 72-hour limit permitted by US law.

Earlier this week, CBS News also reported there are over 4,000 minors being held, with thousands of them being held in jail-like facilities meant for adults for extended periods of time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Marjorie Taylor Greene falsely claims ‘all those illegals’ are celebrating with ‘big barbacoas’ on the border while thousands of migrant children are being detained

marjorie taylor greene 3
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wears a “Free Speech” face mask as she walks through the halls of Congress, tailed by reporters, on February 2, 2021.

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene falsely accused undocumented immigrants of hosting “big barbacoas” at the border.
  • She is echoing GOP talking points raising alarm about the influx of migrants crossing the border.
  • The Biden administration is reversing many of Trump’s harsh anti-immigrant policies.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Georgia Republican who has embraced conspiracy theories, falsely accused undocumented immigrants of hosting “big barbacoas” on the border to celebrate President Joe Biden.

“Hey @JoeBiden, all those illegals you are welcoming in our country are having big barbacoas right now at our border,” she tweeted on Thursday night. “They aren’t waiting until July 4th like you want legal American taxpayers to do, if they get the vaccine. You also forgot to thank President Trump for the shot!”

Republican lawmakers have focused their messaging on the recent surge in migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, returning to former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant playbook. They’re attempting to raise alarm about “super-spreader caravans” of immigrants in much the same way that Trump wildly exaggerated the threat of violent “caravans” of criminals looking to invade the country.

And they’re blaming Biden’s reversal of Trump’s harsh anti-immigrant policies for the influx in unaccompanied migrant children who’ve crossed the border in recent weeks. Thousands of migrant children have been detained under Biden’s new administration and the surge is causing delays in transferring the kids from federal facilities meant for adults to Department of Health and Human Services shelters.

The Biden administration is loosening Trump’s restrictions on refugees and asylum seekers, expanding family-based immigration, creating a pathway to citizenship and permanent residence for millions of undocumented foreign workers, and reducing mass deportations. Biden has also reversed Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which barred refugees and asylum seekers from staying in the US while their claims are processed and forced thousands into dangerous and squalid camps in Mexico.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said recently that the Biden administration “inherited a real mess” on the border and seeks to implement a more “humane” set of policies to deal with it.

Biden pledged during a national address on Thursday night to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all adult Americans by May 1. And he said he expects the country to return to something resembling normal life by July 4, when he’ll encourage small family gatherings.

“July 4th with your loved ones is the goal,” the president said.

While Greene claimed that undocumented immigrants aren’t “waiting until July 4th” to gather, she and other Republican lawmakers have aggressively resisted and undermined federal health officials’ guidelines on gatherings, mask-wearing, social distancing, and other COVID-19 mitigation practices. Greene has called masks “oppressive” and long called for states to fully reopen. She’s held her own gatherings, including her election victory party and town halls, with little regard for virus safety measures.

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