Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Tuesday openly questioned how the Obama administration can say it's surprised by the flood of unaccompanied immigrant children when it put out an ad in January for services related to handling thousands of additional children.
Sessions was referring to a January 29 ad on the BizOpps website that said it wanted to contract out for transportation and other services for 65,000 immigrant children.
The surge to 60,000 or so children seen this year was said to catch many off guard, especially since just 6,500 children entered the U.S. as early as 2011. But Sessions said the advertisement showed that the administration knew the surge would happen.
"This was in January!" Sessions said on the Senate floor. "In January of this year, they posted an advertisement to handle 65,000. So this raises serious questions.
"Why would the administration claim to be surprised by the current influx of unaccompanied minors when they were taking bids in January for a contract to handle the exact situation, almost the exact number that we've seen?" he asked. "So how did they anticipate the very number it seems we've had, at least to date?"
The January advertisement sought a range of services for up to 65,000 children. Most of these were related to transportation, but several other services were listed.
"Escort services include, but are not limited to, assisting with: transferring physical custody of UAC from DHS to Health and Human Services (HHS) care via ground or air methods of transportation (charter or commercial carrier), property inventory, providing juveniles with meals, drafting reports, generating transport documents, maintaining/stocking daily supplies, providing and issuing clothing as needed, coordinating with DHS and HHS staff, travel coordination, limited stationary guard services to accommodate for trip disruptions due to inclement weather, faulty equipment, or other exigent circumstances," the ad read.
Despite the ad's prediction of more children coming across the border, the Obama administration has indicated surprise at the surge, and has asked for $1 billion in additional funding to deal with what many are calling a humanitarian crisis.
Earlier Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he blamed human traffickers for telling immigrant children that they will not be deported if they try to cross the southern U.S. border.