Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorcas has pushed for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider awarding the nonprofit a more than $500 million government contract to provide housing for immigrants in 2021, according to a report by The Washington Examiner.
The Examiner reported on Friday that on April 14, 2021, Mallorcas sent an email to Marsha Espinosa, DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, and five other DHS employees saying the department needed to find out where its rules were “rigorously enforced.”
This was in response to an email from Espinoza sent with a news article that raised questions about the legality of a $530 million contract with the nonprofit Endeavors to house immigrant children.
The Examiner received the letters following a lawsuit filed by the American Accountability Foundation, a conservative opposition research group, for information on the matter.
The Examiner reported that the Biden administration signed two separate agreements with the Endeavors to house immigrants in private facilities that no other groups had fought for.
Federal regulations require the government to conduct “full and open competition” to receive proposals and award contracts, but some exceptions are allowed.
The Examiner reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said “unusual and compelling urgency” was the reason the contracts were not offered competitively.
The first contract was with ICE for $87 million for Endeavors to take in and look after migrant families held up in hotels in Arizona and Texas for six months. A second $530 million contract was awarded to the Department of Health and Welfare for Immigrant Children for additional housing in Pecos, Texas.
Former Biden transition team member Andrew Lorenzen-Straight was reportedly hired by the Endeavors months before the nonprofit won government contracts. In April 2021, Axios reported that Lorenzen-Straight was advising the transition team on DHS policy and staffing, in part prompting some Republicans in the House of Representatives to ask Mallorcas for information on how the Endeavors secured contracts.
An Endeavors spokesperson told the Examiner that the nonprofit worked closely with DHS and the Inspector General’s office to review the contract, which expired last year.
“From veterans to communities devastated by natural disasters to unaccompanied children, our mission is to serve all people in times of crisis,” the spokesperson said.
The Hill has reached out to DHS for comment.