The Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is looking to buy 40,000 emergency Mylar blankets. The silvery, polyester blankets are often used in detention facilities where those caught illegally crossing the border into the United States are held. A number of photos of children in a government holding facility using Mylar blankets appeared extensively in the press earlier this year, via the Associated Press:
The USBP seems anxious to have the blankets on hand relatively quickly. Bids are being accepted for only three days (through September 25), after which a contract is expected to be awarded to the lowest bidder with a good contracting history with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The vendor then has thirty days to deliver the first 20,000 blankets, with the remaining 20,000 required a maximum of forty-five days later.
Less than two weeks ago, the White House posted an update on the recent influx of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The update includes a chart showing the fluctuations in the average number of children picked up daily in the very Rio Grande sector for which the blanket order was placed:
The latest figures on the chart appear to show the number has fallen below 50 per day, down from a high of over 450 per day at one point in June. Although the numbers have fallen dramatically, there has been some speculation that the cooler temperatures in the fall might cause those numbers to begin to rise again. It is unclear if the blanket order is in response to specific expectations of a resumption of the influx or is a more general restocking order.
An inquiry to DHS about the specific reason for the blanket order has so far gone unanswered.