A posting on a federal website is prompting new questions from lawmakers about why swifter action was not taken to help secure our southwestern border. The posting was dated January 29 and was found on the FedBizOpps.gov website, which alerts businesses and vendors to potential government work.
The posting was categorized as a Request For Information regarding escort services for "Unaccompanied Alien Children." The listing explains to potential contractors, "There will be approximately 65,000 (Unaccompanied Alien Children) in total."
The listing further reads, "In emergency situations, the Contractor shall be called on to provide temporary shelter locations (such as trailers) with shower facilities for juveniles who are pending placement."
This posting also specifically mentions Texas as a potentially main area for this work.
Since this posting came out nearly six months ago, lawmakers want to know why more wasn't done sooner to help secure the border. An estimated 52,000 unaccompanied children from Central America have been caught coming across the border illegally. Detention centers have been filled to capacity, forcing Border Patrol officials to release many adults and families on their own recognizance prior to deportation hearings.
Despite numerous requests from Local 2 Investigates, federal officials maintain they do not yet have information on the number of illegal immigrants released due to a lack of detention space, or how many of these individuals have shown up at required immigration hearings.
When Local 2 contacted officials with the Department of Homeland Security regarding the posting, we were sent a written statement.
"ICE posted the RFI in January as part of the agency's long-term contingency planning efforts," the statement reads. "ICE has been in contact with the appropriate federal agencies to ensure we provide adequate levels of transportation, as required by the level of unaccompanied alien children coming into the government's custody."
When Local 2 asked for more specific answers about the January posting, we did not receive a response.
In a another statement to Local 2, Texas Sen. John Cornyn writes, "It's a crisis the Administration has known about and saw coming."
Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council Shawn Moran also wrote, "DHS was obviously aware of this situation as it had been reported by Border Patrol agents for well over a year. Choosing to release juveniles and family groups rather than deporting them helped fuel this crisis."
Next week Houston area Congressman Michael McCaul will hold hearings in McAllen to further probe these issues and what is needed to stop the flow of Central American immigrants into the U.S.