Searching for places to house the "overwhelm[ing]" influx of Mexican and Central American children crossing the U.S. southern border without parents or guardians, government officials scouted out an abandoned hotel in Grand Island, New York on Friday.
Or at least the government thought the hotel was abandoned.
As it turned out, the 263-room Byblos Niagara Resort and Spa was fully booked.
"It looks like there's been a mistake," federal agents with the Homeland Security Department and the Border Patrol told the hotel manager, according to the Buffalo News.
“They were thinking the hotel was abandoned and closed,” the manager said.
Image via Byblos Niagara Resort and Spa / Facebook
It's unclear how the federal government got the idea that the hotel might be available for use as a refugee camp, but besides being fully-booked for most of the summer, the Byblos Niagara Resort and Spa isn't exactly kid-friendly: the hotel is an upscale place, and in its previous life as a Holiday Inn the hotel hosted the 2009 “Entice the Falls” swingers convention, the Buffalo News reported.
A simple Google search could have saved the agents the trip the the hotel.
What is clear is that the feds were moving quickly, without giving local authorities much notice.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and General Services Administration will be conducting an initial assessment of Lexington Commerce Center in Rochester, NY... and the Byblos Niagara Resort in Grand Island, NY... to determine whether it may be used as a facility for temporarily housing children who have come into the United States from other countries without an adult guardian,” wrote HHS official Fatima A. Cuevas in an email to local officials on the day of the botched inspection.
HHS officials did not respond to the Buffalo News' requests for comment.
Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican, took the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration's handling of immigration matters.
“Attempts today by Washington bureaucrats to transfer undocumented immigrants to the Byblos Niagara Resort in Grand Island further exemplify their incompetence,” Collins said. “Unfortunately, this is no laughing matter.”
BROWNSVILLE, TX - JUNE 18: Detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, on June 18, 2014, in Brownsville,Texas. Brownsville and Nogales, Ariz. have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. Pool/Getty Images
The federal agencies' tragicomic ineptitude comes as part of a broader struggle to house and care for unaccompanied immigrant children.
At least some of the children — 800 on Friday, with potentially thousands to follow — are being moved from Texas to a Border Patrol training facility in New Mexico, KGTV reported.
Reportedly, New Mexico state officials were not consulted before the buses full of children began rolling into their state.
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