Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reportedly ordered a comprehensive review of the U.S. government’s $530 million contract for immigrant housing along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to internal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The American Accountability Foundation, which filed the FOIA request in 2021, shared its findings with the Washington Examiner. In the internal emails collected, Mayorkas demanded to know why an organization called Endeavors had been awarded a noncompete contract of $530 million.
In an email on April 14, 2021, DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Marsha Espinosa alerted Mayorkas to a news story questioning the legality of the government contract for housing for migrant children.
Nearly two minutes later, Espinosa sent Mayorkas and five other DHS employees another email, which prompted Mayorkas to write: “We need to inquire of Contracting/Management to determine whether principles and rules were followed scrupulously.”
AAF founder Tom Jones, a former Trump White House official, said he was skeptical of Mayorkas’ in-house response.
“The email from the secretary underscores that even he knew this contract was highly suspect and likely subject to inappropriate influence,” Jones wrote in an email. “Further, it seems to underscore his ignorance of this important contract and that he was concerned that people within his agency were awarding multi-tens of million dollar contracts without the top leadership of the agency signing off.”
On its website, Endeavors touts its status as “the largest provider of supportive services for veteran families.”
In its “Migrant Services” section, Endeavors says, “We provide direct care, migrant wellness support, case management, home study and post-release services, staffing, and holistic programming for unaccompanied migrant children and families.”
Scott Amey, general counsel for the independent watchdog group Project On Government Oversight, wrote in an email to the Examiner, “Family Endeavors has large federal contracts with [Health and Human Services] and DHS, and my guess is that Secretary Mayorkas wasn’t pleased with the ethical and contract award concerns that were raised in the media reports.
“At the end of the day, he’ll likely have to answer for any cozy dealings, and it appears that he was trying to get to the bottom of it,” added Amey, who has tracked Endeavors’ public-sector contracts over the past two years.
In January 2021, the Biden administration reportedly signed two “no-bid deals” with Endeavors to house immigrants in private facilities. The contract totaled more than $600 million.
In March 2021, the Examiner reported the DHS-led U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement signed an $87 million contract with Endeavors “to acquire and oversee the detention of migrant families” across six hotels in Arizona and Texas.
In April 2021, the HHS reportedly awarded Endeavors another no-bid contract for additional housing for migrant children in Pecos, Texas.
Prior to the above agreements, the Examiner reports, Endeavors had never received a contract from the DHS or HHS agencies. It also had “no experience” caring for immigrants, nor had it ever been awarded a federal contract exceeding $2 million.
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