Report: ICE spent $5 million on empty Phoenix-area hotel rooms to house migrants
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spent $5 Million on Phoenix-area hotel rooms that remained empty during an effort to house migrants in 2021, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
The ICE program was launched in early 2021 in anticipation of increased apprehensions of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The hotels were meant to house migrant families while they were processed by the agency.
ICE contracted with Endeavours to open more than a thousand hotel rooms in eight hotels for use as “Emergency Family Reception Sites.” Three of those hotels were in Arizona -- ‘Casa de Esperanza’ in Yuma, ‘Casa de la Luz’ and ‘Casa de Alegria’ in the Phoenix area. The hotels were renamed from their brand names.
The Inspector General found that ICE spent approximately $17 Million on hotel space and services that went unused. Of the $17 Million spent on unused hotel space, approximately $3 Million was misspent at Casa de la Luz and approximately $2 Million was misspent at Casa de Alegria.
Federal officials say they also found the hotels had steps in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but “several testing practices were deficient.” In its response to the inspector general, ICE said six of the eight hotels were demobilized by December 2021 and the remaining two hotels were open until March 2022.
ICE said after the use of the hotels was completed, they were transitioning to “alternatives to detention programs.” They say they will “conduct an assessment to appropriately determine the housing needs of families before entering into a similar or new contract.”
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