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Report: Mayorkas weighing return to border wall construction

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is reportedly mulling a return to construction of the southern border wall to fill in “gaps” in the current barrier.

The topic reportedly came up during a meeting between Mayorkas and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees, according to a Tuesday Washington Times report.

MORE ON MAYORKAS: Graham: ‘It’s time for Mayorkas to change course or change jobs’

“The president has communicated quite clearly his decision that the emergency that triggered the devotion of DOD funds to the construction of the border wall is ended,” the DHS secretary reportedly told the group.

“But that leaves room to make decisions as the administration, as part of the administration, in particular areas of the wall that need renovation, particular projects that need to be finished.”

MORE ON THE BORDER: Border Patrol: Nearly 1,000 migrants are crossing into US undetected per day

Mayorkas reportedly said some of that would include “gaps,” “gates” and areas “where the wall has been completed but the technology has not been implemented.”

Talking about the plan submitted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Mayorkas reportedly told those in the meeting, “It’s not a single answer to a single question. There are different projects that the chief of the Border Patrol has presented and the acting commissioner of CBP presented to me.”

MORE ON THE BORDER: March migrant detentions at southern border hit 15-year record

Construction of former President Donald Trump’s signature project was halted by President Joe Biden the day he was sworn in. According to The Washington Times, the previous administration constructed about 460 miles of the wall, with most of that being in areas a barrier already existed but didn’t prevent anyone crossing the border by foot.

Trump himself was excited by the possible shift in policy by his successor.

MORE ON THE BORDER: AOC floats ‘reparations’ for some migrant families, rips Biden admin’s handling of migrants

“I think it’s great that they reversed themselves, but a lot of damage was done because we were gonna have that wall almost complete. You know, it delayed two and a half years because of lawsuits,” Trump told Newsmax on Tuesday.

“We started building it and we were almost finished and then they called an end to it. And it’s, you know, just incredible. But if they agree that they’re going to complete it — there’s very little to complete. If they agree that they’re going to complete it, that’s a great thing. That’s a very positive step.”

Asked about the Washington Times report during Tuesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “Wall construction remains paused to the extent permitted by law, so some has already been funded through congressional authorization.”

“When the administration took office funds had been diverted from congressionally appropriated military construction projects and other appropriated purposes toward building the wall. Federal agencies are continuing to review wall contracts and develop a plan to submit to the president soon. It is paused. There is some limited construction that has been funded and allocated for but it is otherwise paused.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Immigration

IG Audit shows nonprofit wasted $17 million taxpayer dollars on hotels to not house illegal foreign nationals

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Screen Shot 2022 08 10 at 11.34.49 PM

An audit report by the Inspector General shows enraging information as to exactly how millions of dollars from the American people were completely wasted.

One doesn’t need to read past the IG report’s headline to become furious: “ICE Spent Funds on Unused Beds, Missed COVID-19 Protocols and Detention Standards while Housing Migrant Families in Hotels.”

In summary, an unbelievable $17 million was wasted on not housing illegal foreign nationals. At the heart of the story is Endeavors, a nonprofit which has received half a billion dollars in taxpayer money “through no-bid government contracts to house foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. and were released by the Biden administration instead of being deported” reports The Center Square.

The audit evaluated the process used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant no bid contracts to Endeavors and their compliance with federal law, the article explains.

The report evaluated an $86.9 million sole source contract first awarded to Endeavors earlier this year. The contract was awarded for six months to provide “temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled and are therefore placed in immigration proceedings for their removal from the United States,” The Center Square previously reported.

Months after it received its first no bid contract, Endeavors received a second $530 million contract and hired former Biden administration official Andrew Lorenzen-Straight as its senior director for migrant services and federal affairs, Axios reported.

The Center Square explains:

Sole source contracts are used when an agency can demonstrate the contract meets specific and justified criteria. If contracts don’t meet one of the criteria, they must be awarded through an open competitive process.

Endeavors has no professional history of providing housing services and has never provided beds or all-inclusive emergency family residential services, OIG auditors found. Those critical of DHS’ contract process argue the agency should be awarding contracts through an open competitive process to ensure that those bidding for funds can offer the services they claim they can provide.

Under the contract in question, for six months between March and September 2021, Endeavors was responsible for providing 1,239 beds and other necessary services in hotels. It used six hotels and repurposed them as Emergency Family Reception Sites to accommodate families staying less than three days while ICE considered conditions of release, including alternatives to detention.

The IOG made four recommendations for ICE to improve its contracting and oversight of hotel facility management and operations. “ICE concurred with one recommendation and didn’t concur with three. Based on information ICE provided in its response, the IOG said it considered one recommendation resolved and closed, and three recommendations administratively closed.”

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