Immigration and Customs Enforcement signed a contract with a nonprofit company called Endeavors to provide housing and other services for detained migrants during last year’s surge. Officials agreed to pay Endeavors more than $87 million total, despite the fact that the company had never provided immigration services before and failed to meet the government’s COVID-19 protocols.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General acknowledged in a report this week that ICE’s contract with Endeavors was problematic. The agency should have sought multiple bids for the work, the watchdog said. Instead, ICE signed a “sole source” deal with Endeavors, which forced the government to pay for 1,200 hotel rooms up front, even if they were not used.
As a result, ICE was forced to pay Endeavors $17 million for the hotel rooms between April and June of 2021, the report found.
“ICE’s sole source contract with Endeavors resulted in millions of dollars being spent on unused hotel space,” the inspector general said.
The report also alleged that Endeavors put “migrant families and the outside population at risk of contracting COVID-19” by refusing to follow testing procedures before transporting migrants to different housing situations.
“Further, Endeavors did not follow required ICE standards to ensure the proper care for housing migrant families while such families were residing in its facilities,” the report adds, claiming Endeavors failed to provide self-service snacks, staff storage of important documents like passports, and video cameras to record use-of-force incidents.
ICE’s deal with Endeavors has come under close scrutiny after it was revealed that the organization hired Biden administration transition team member Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as its senior director just months before the contract was struck.
Lorenzen-Strait has since been barred from all future work with ICE after officials discovered that he did not obtain the proper clearance to work on the contract.
“Mr. Andrew Lorenzen–Strait was not cleared to work on the [Intensive Supervision Appearance Program IV’s Support Services]. Please remove Mr. Andrew Lorenzen–Strait from supporting the ISAP IV contract,” Joshua Jones, the management and program analyst for the Alternatives to Detention program within ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations’s Custody Management office, wrote in a note to his colleagues last year.