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ICE wants to transport 225,000 immigrants across US

Late afternoon on Tuesday, an official from the International Organization for Migration gives transportation instructions to the group of 32-men and three women at the Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava shelter in Tijuana, Mexico that have volunteered to return back to their home countries. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
May 20, 2019

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is looking to hire a private contractor to handle the transportation of 225,000 immigrants across the United States.

The agency said the contractor is needed to arrange ground and air transportation for 60,000 immigrants annually over the course of five years while they wait on their asylum claims, Quartz reported Thursday.

About 90 percent of the immigrants are expected to travel by air. Some airlines, however, have refused to transport the unaccompanied minors.

The contractor must be “highly responsible” and treat all immigrants with “dignity and respect” over the course of the contract, the report stated.

The immigrants will be transported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement centers or family residential facilities throughout the nation.

“Sometimes the contractor will have to plan commercial or charter flights in a period of less than 24 hours,” the document stated, including “on-demand escort services.”

The request document also provides instructions for everything from communicating with the media, to using restraints on immigrant minors.  “ICE has zero tolerance for any forms of sexual abuse and assault,” the document notes.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is overwhelmed with demands. In Oct. 2018 when the first of the Central American migrant caravans traveled to the southern border, ORR was already over their 16,050-bed capacity.

The DHS has been scrambling to find housing for migrant families since last year in the wake of the overwhelming capacity. They have had to release immigrants by the thousands into U.S. cities.

The single largest migrant processing center, the Central Processing Center located in McAllen, Texas, is already holding 2,400 migrants – 900 over its designed capacity.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is expected to approve a Department of Homeland Security request to use the U.S. military to supply and construct six tent cities near the southern border.

U.S. immigration court already more than 800,000 cases awaiting hearings, and the backlog continues to increase with the influx of migrants from numerous Central American migrant caravans since October 2018.

“What makes these numbers so dramatically different than anything we’ve ever faced in the history of Border Patrol is the demographic,” a DHS official told CNN. “There continue to be record numbers of families and children arriving predominantly from the Northern triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with over 58,000 family members apprehended on the southern border in April.”The excessive number of migrants entering the country has caused “dire concerns” due to the lack of detention space, forcing migrants to be held in temporary facilities for long periods of time.

“This is dangerously elevating the time in custody and poses serious, significant safety risks,” the official said.

The Border Patrol has begun transporting migrants by airplane to other cities in the U.S. to help process the overwhelming number of migrants. Three planes of migrants will be transported each week from the Rio Grande Valley to San Diego.