Biden administration awarded $177M no-bid contract to house migrant children in North Carolina

Washington Examiner – by Anna Giaritelli

The Biden administration secretly paid a for-profit company $177 million to begin housing more than 1,000 migrant children this month in a vacant Hebrew school in North Carolina, according to leaked government communications outlining the deal. 

The Washington Examiner obtained government contract documents that show the Department of Health and Human Services plans to hold up to 1,100 children and underage teenagers at the American Hebrew Academy in a residential neighborhood in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The federal government’s use of no-bid contracts has drawn the ire of watchdogs over transparency and cost concerns. HHS did not respond to a request for comment on this contract process.

“The main concern is that taxpayers’ money will be wasted on higher-than-necessary costs. Competing contracts is a proven method to identify qualified companies and get the best prices for the work sought,” Sean Moulton, a senior policy analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, wrote in an email to the Washington Examiner. “Contracts for large amounts should be competed as much as possible because the potential savings to the taxpayer would be significant and well-worth the extra work needed to oversee the bidding process.”

The deal — made behind closed doors with New York-based Deployed Resources rather than through the normal public solicitation process — is the latest of backdoor payouts that President Joe Biden’s administration has made in secret in its attempt to downplay its response to the worsening migration crisis at the southern border.

In this instance, the Department of the Interior submitted a justification notice on behalf of HHS, outlining why it awarded the massive contract without opening the process to others. “Based on market research and a review of past contract actions, Deployed Resources has been identified as the best provider for this urgent and compelling requirement,” the DOI document obtained by the Washington Examiner stated.

Despite the government citing rising migrant crossings and a lack of infrastructure to respond to the situation, the Biden administration refuses to acknowledge the situation at the border as constituting a crisis. In May, nearly 240,000 people were encountered attempting to cross the southern border without permission, more than any other month in U.S. history.

Children between 13 and 17 years of age will be held at the Greensboro school for roughly one month before they are released to adults in the United States, most likely relatives and family friends. Upon release, more children from the border will be flown to the Greensboro shelter and held until release. The children are “unaccompanied,” meaning they came across the border without parents or guardians, often aided by cartels that charge their families thousands of dollars.

Deployed Resources signed the deal on May 26, and the $177 million is meant to cover operations for 12 months, though the school has been leased for five years. Deployed Resources posted a hiring ad in May in an effort to bring on 800 workers to staff the facility by July, when children were slated to begin arriving.

The 100-acre Hebrew school campus opened in 2001 to educate Jewish high school students. It ceased operations in 2019. Its campus includes 16 dormitory buildings, 35 residential staff apartments, and an $18 million athletic center that features rock climbing walls, basketball courts, and an eight-lane swimming pool.

The federal agency will provide classroom education, mental and medical health services, case management, translation services, legal services, and recreational facilities.

The Washington Examiner reported in May 2021 of the Biden administration’s plans to consider using the school campus to house children. Republican House members from North Carolina balked at the development, stating in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in June that they had not been made aware of the deal until now.

Children who come across the border illegally after being smuggled by cartels are taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol, which can only hold them in custody for up to three days in an effort to ensure they are turned over to more suitable caretakers. HHS’s Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Refugee Resettlement arm is responsible for caring for children after Border Patrol.

Record high numbers of children came across the southern border in early 2021 after the Biden administration stopped turning away children under a pandemic public health policy. ORR acquired facilities near the border to hold children. It had expected child crossings to die down by the end of the year.

In the three months between Biden’s November 2020 election victory and Feb. 5, 2021, HHS requested bids from the private sector to see which organizations may be suitable to oversee housing projects for migrant children. It received six offers but ultimately did not go with any of them for this project.

In April 2021, the Washington Examiner reported on two other backdoor deals that the Biden administration made with organizations to house migrants, totaling more than $600 million.

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