Republican members of Congress are investigating a recent inspector general report indicating that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wrongfully allocated $87 million in a sole-source contract to a nonprofit in Texas.
ICE collaborated with a San Antonio-based nonprofit called Endeavors to provide housing for illegal immigrants in hotels. Last year, the Epoch Times reported, ICE spent “approximately $17 million for hotel space and services at six hotels that went largely unused between April and June 2021.”
The Congressional Republicans wrote a letter, in early May, to Tae Johnson, the Acting ICE Director, asking him to provide all of the relevant documents and information surrounding the deal.
The letter said, “We write to express alarm at the potential waste of millions in taxpayer money and abuse of the contracting process by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. According to a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (OIG) report, ICE officials bypassed the ordinary competitive process to award a large, sole source $87 million contract and then wasted at least $17 million of taxpayer money because hotel rooms intended for migrant families sat empty and were mostly unused.”
It went on to call the $17 million spent “unacceptable” and lamented the potential conflict of interests that might arise through the contract.
It said, “Wasting $17 million in unused hotel rooms paid for by the taxpayers is unacceptable. Unfortunately, these problems are not surprising given the potential conflicts of interest inherent in this particular contract.”
The letter was signed by Reps. James Comer, Michael Cloud, Jody Hicc, Glenn Grothman, Ralph Norman, Nancy Mace, Jim Jordan, Virginia Foxx, Bob Gibbs, Clay Higgins, Pete Sessions, Fred Keller, Andy Biggs, Andrew Clyde, Scott Franklin, Jake LaTurner, Pat Fallon, Yvette Herrell, and Byron Donalds.
The IG report prompted the congress members to speak out and raise ethical concerns about how the decision-making process to award the multi-million-dollar contract to a sole source instead of allocating it through a “competitive procurement process.”
The report said, “Rather than using the competitive procurement process, ICE awarded a solen source contract to Endeavors, which had provided an unsolicited proposal for housing migrant families in hotels.”
The Republicans’ letter to Johnson raises concerns over this potential conflict of interest, noting that Endeavors was able to secure these funds after hiring Andrew Lorenzen-Strait a longtime political ally of the Biden administration.
The letter said, “Endeavors won this contract and even larger contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services through a no bid process after hiring Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as Senior Director for Migrant Services and Federal Affairs, a political ally of this Administration.”