Federal officials awarded a contract worth up to $105 million to a New York company for a tent-like facility to house migrants in Tucson.
The facility is being built on Tucson’s south side for Customs and Border Protection as thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied children arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.
The facility is designed to house about 500 people, but spacing restrictions during the pandemic likely will reduce capacity to about 150 or 200 people, according to CBP officials.
The projected construction budget for the facility in Tucson is $34.5 million, says a statement from CBP. The agency also is building a similar facility in the Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector, with a projected budget of $33.8 million.
If all options in the April 2 contract for the Tucson facility are exercised, the total value of the contract will be $105.5 million, according to federal procurement documents.
The contract runs until October 2022, indicating the contract likely includes operating the facility for more than a year after construction is completed.
When CBP built a tent-like facility in Yuma during a similar spike in border apprehensions in 2019, officials estimated the cost would be about $15 million. That facility was air-conditioned with shower stalls and shelves of food, clothing and other items.
The April 2 contract was awarded to Deployed Resources, LLC, based in Rome, New York. Federal procurement records show the company has handled numerous contracts with the military.
The company’s website says it specializes in building “safe and secure temporary structures,” including for the Federal Emergency Management Agency after hurricanes.
As border encounters continued to rise, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently awarded a $86 million contract for hotel rooms to house migrants in the Phoenix area and in Texas.
Catholic Community Services, which houses asylum seekers at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center in Tucson after they are released by the Border Patrol, provides services at a much lower cost, said Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik.
“We’re doing the work here in Tucson with volunteers,” he said. “If they were to send us a fraction of that money it would help us immensely.”
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero echoed that sentiment.
“Local governments and NGOs (non-government organizations) are working together around the clock to provide a more humane, non-intimidating environment for these families who have already experienced significant trauma,” Romero said in a statement.
“In my conversations with Border Patrol, they have repeatedly stated that the agency is not a shelter-provider. Why not direct this large sum of money to supporting existing community efforts that are capable of providing more dignified living conditions?” Romero said.
The facility is under construction on East Los Reales Road between Tucson International Airport and Interstate 10.
CBP officials said they will hold an open house before the facility opens later this month or in early May.
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