Immigration and Customs Enforcement is taking over seven hotels and starting Friday will start housing some migrant families who have entered the United States illegally over the U.S.-Mexico border.
A first wave of about 600 migrants will head to four properties starting Friday, with another 600 migrants slated to move into three additional properties starting April 30.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration was able to send all border-crossers back to Mexico, however Mexico changed a law and now families with young children can’t be sent back – meaning the U.S. government needs to find places to house them.
ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson told DailyMail.com that the agency has ‘signed a short-term contract with the non-profit division of Endeavors to provide temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled and are therefore placed in immigration proceedings for their removal from the United States.’
‘The $86.9 million contract provides 1,239 beds and other necessary services. The families will receive a comprehensive health assessment that includes COVID-19 testing,’ he added.
Johnson also pressed, ‘Our border is not open. The majority of individuals continue to be expelled under the Centers for Disease Control’s public health authority.’
The seven hotels are part of large American chains.
The Washingon Examiner first reported Thursday on the development and that ICE has nicknamed each of the hotels a different ‘casa,’ which is Spanish for house.
Outside of Phoenix, for example, a Holiday Inn will transform into ‘La Casa de la Luz,’ of ‘House of Light.’
PHOENIX: ‘La Casa de la Luz,’ or House of Light, for the Holiday Inn will accept more than 200 people starting Friday. It is located 15 miles southeast of Phoenix in Chandler and has a large pool
PHOENIX: The swimming pool at ‘La Casa de la Luz’ or House of Light, which will be used to house more than 200 people starting Friday
PHOENIX: A large room at the Holiday Inn, which is being called the ‘House of Light’ by ICE
PHOENIX: Phoenix’s Sure Stay Best Western motel rooms will hold 142 people as the ‘Casa de Alegria’ or House of Joy. It is located close to the airport
PHOENIX: Phoenix’s Sure Stay Best Western motel rooms will hold 142 people as the ‘Casa de Alegria’ or House of Joy. It is located close to the airport
That property features a lagoon-shaped outdoor pool, according to pictures from the hotel chain IHG’s website – and will house more than 200 people.
Also in Phoenix, a Sure Stay Best Western Hotel will house 172 people.
It’s being referred to as the ‘Casa de Alegria’ or ‘House of Joy.’
In El Paso, Texas, a Best Western two miles south of the city’s international airport will become ‘Casa Estralla’ or ‘Star House.’
The propery is located next to a Starbucks and 186 beds will be made available.
The multi-colored property boasts an indoor-outdoor pool surrounded by bright blue lounge chairs, according to photos from Best Western’s website.
EL PASO: On Friday, families will be moved into a Best Western in El Paso, which ICE had dubbed ‘Casa Estrella’ or ‘Star House.’ The hotel is making at least 186 beds available. The building is located next to a Starbucks and 2 miles south of El Paso International Airport
EL PASO: The covered portion of the pool area at the El Paso Best Western
EL PASO: An exterior shot of the ‘Casa Estralla’ or ‘Star House’ ICE will use starting Friday
EL PASO: 158 beds are available at the Comfort Suites. The Comfort Suites will be referred to as the ‘Casa Consuelo,’ or House of Consolation
EL PASO: One of the standard rooms at the Comfort Suites’ ‘Casa Consuelo’
EL PASO: A larger room at the Comfort Suites
A nearby Comfort Suites in El Paso will be the ‘Casa Consuelo’ or ‘House of Consolation,’ according to the Examiner’s report.
Some rooms feature couches.
There, 158 beds will be made available for migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
The Examiner reported that phase two of the project to move migrants into hotels will take place starting April 30, with hotel rooms opening up in Pecos and Cotulla Texas.
A WoodSpring Suites in Pecos, Texas will turn into the ‘La Case de La Paz or ‘House of Peace.’
The suites feature kitchenettes and living rooms.
In Pecos, 107 beds will be reserved for migrant families.
PECOS: Starting April 30, 107 beds will be available for families brought to the WoodSpring Suites in Pecos, Texas. ‘La Casa de La Paz,’ or House of Peace
PECOS: The ‘House of Peace’ has in-room kitchens and living rooms rather than just bedrooms
PECOS: One of the beds in the ‘House of Peace.’ Overall, 107 rooms will be made available through ICE
In Cotulla, Texas Wyndham’s Microtel and a Hilton-brand Hampton Inn will hold a combined 338 people.
The Microtel will be called ‘Casa de Compasion’ or ‘House of Compassion.’
The Hampton Inn will be transformed into ‘Casa Esperanza’ or ‘House of Hope.’
Pictures on the Hampton Inn’s website show an outdoor pool.
The Biden administration signed a $69.9 million contract to temporarily house migrant families in hotels as the border, and in turn border facilities, have become overwhelmed.
New numbers out Thursday from Customs and Border Protection showed that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border were at an all-time high.
The previous record was when around 11,000 children crossed the border in May 2019.
The March numbers provided by Customs and Border Patrol Thursday represented a 100 per cent increase in crossings compared to February.
Overall in March, the CBP encountered mroe than 172,000 people attempting to gain entry along the Southwest border, which represented a 71 per cent increase over February 2021.
COTULLA: Wyndham’s Microtel in Cotulla, Texas is being dubbed ‘Casa de Compasion’ or House of Compassion
COTULLA: Wyndham’s Microtel, ‘Casa de Compasion’ or House of Compassion, in Cotulla will hold approximately 338 people combined
COTULLA: A bathroom at the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham
COTULLA: The Hilton brand’s Hampton Inn in Cotulla is being called ‘Casa Esperanza’ or House of Hop
COTULLA: The pool at the Hampton Inn, which is being called ‘Casa Esperanza’ or ‘House of Hope’
The CBP’s acting commissioner Troy Miller pushed that the situation was under control.
‘CBP has experienced an increase in encounters and arrests. This is not new. Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year,’ Miller said in a statement attached to the new numbers. ‘We are committed to balancing the needs of maintain border security, care for those in our custody and keep the American people and our workforce safe.’
President Joe Biden also tried to characterize the influx as normal seasonal upticks during his late March press conference.
‘It happens every single solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March – it happens every year,’ Biden said then.
Police register names as a group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrives in the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande river on Wednesday
Migrants are seen getting out of a boat that they took to traverse the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States on Wednesday
A group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrives at a bus terminal in the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico
The number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is spiking in 2021 compared to 2020, which saw a decrease in crossings thanks to the coronavirus pandemic
Families are pouring into the US from Mexico on a daily basis and have pushed crossings up to their highest level in 15 years.
A shocking video of an abandoned migrant boy telling border agents he feared he would be kidnapped and footage of Ecuadorian sisters, aged three and five, being dropped over the wall have exposed the dire situation.
The top House Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, tweeted Thursday, ‘President Biden said the surge was seasonal. But the #’s don’t lie – 172k migrants were taken into custody last month, a two-decade high.’
Wednesday McCarthy said that he was concerned that among those captures were two Yemeni nationals on a terror watchlist.
McCarthy told Fox News that he requested a classified briefing from the FBI and CIA on the matter and said Harris should attend.
‘I know she hasn’t been to the border,’ McCarthy told Fox. ‘I don’t know if she’s ever been briefing on this, but I think it’d be important that all leaders, because this isn’t about Republican or Democrat, this is about the security of our nation. And everybody should be making sure our nation is secure.’
McCarthy’s call for Harris to finally address the crisis came as more images emerged of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador crossing the Rio Grande and packing shelters in Texas.
Harris hasn’t made a border trip in the 15 days since she was charged with dealing with the root causes of the immigration crisis – a role President Joe Biden described as dealing with the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico, in an attempt to stem the flow.
The migrants who crossed the border are then moved to shelters in Texas that are already overcrowded
Two men from Yemen, a 26-year old (left) and a 33-year-old (right) were intercepted by Custom and Border Patrol agents assigned to the El Centro Station in Calexico, California, on March 30
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will travel to El Paso and McAllen, Texas on Thursday – holding events that are closed to press.
‘Closed press? Remember when President Biden promised transparency?’ Republican Rep. Jim Jordan tweeted about the announcement.
McCarthy also chimed in: ‘The DHS Secretary is heading to the border today but is denying press access. Americans deserve transparency on the crisis the Admin created.’
Biden also hasn’t yet traveled to the southern border.
The Biden administration has tried to push that they’re persuing a more human border policy than the administration of former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s policies created children being separated from their families, with The New York Times reporting Thursday that the parents of 445 migrant children cannot be found.
The former president had also warned of ‘terrorists’ coming over the U.S.-Mexico border during his time in office.
We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left,’ Trump warned in January 2019.
On Monday, Customs and Border Patrol announced that two unnamed Yemeni men on the terror watch list – one 33, the other 26 – had been detained over the last three months in the Calexico area of California.
‘So we know people on the terrorist watch list are coming into America,’ McCarthy said, pointing to the announcement. ‘How are they coming in? How many do we assume go through that we did not catch? Why were they on the watch list? What were they doing coming into the country? Do we have any intel based upon what did they have planned once they entered the country? Who were they going to meet up with?’
A lost migrant child, crying and scared, was found by a Border Patrol agent on his way home. The boy said he was abandoned by the group he was with
McCarthy said he also requested the FBI-CIA briefing would be shared with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, and his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The captures were made by CBP agents assigned to the El Centro Station.
CBP said in a statement on Monday that the two men were on a U.S. government watchlist for terrorism suspects, and were also named on a ‘no-fly’ list.
‘Part of the Border Patrol’s mission states we will protect the country from terrorists,’ said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino.
‘These apprehensions at our border illustrates the importance of our mission and how we can never stop being vigilant in our everyday mission to protect this great country.’
The news was seized upon by Republicans, who are using the current surge in migrant arrivals to attack Joe Biden, and who have always warned that terrorists could be among those entering illegally and evading detection.
Additionally, an El Salvadorean gang member was among the migrants detained by the Border Patrol in the early hours of Wednesday.
The unnamed 28-year-old was described by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as ‘a documented MS-13 gang member,’ Fox News reported.
A group from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen crossing the Rio Grande River into the United States on Wednesday
Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen in a border facility on Wednesday
A group of migrants get off a raft that they used to travel across the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Roma, Texas
A woman and a child are lifted out of a raft after it gets to the United States from Mexico on Wednesday
Guatemalan migrant Ceidy, 31, and her 3 month old baby Bridget touch land after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico on Wednesday
A group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrive in the United States Wednesday
Law enforcement registers a group of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador Wednesday
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) told Fox News Channel that he requested a classified briefing on the two Yemeni nationals that were caught coming into the U.S. through Mexico and he invited Vice President Kamala Harris (right) to attend
Vice President Kamala Harris has jetted all over the U.S. without visiting the U.S.-Mexico border
The gang was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and then mixed with California prison gang culture and was exported to El Salvador. There are currently believed to be around 10,000 MS-13 members in the United States, out of 1.4 million known gang members in the country.
Former President Donald Trump described the group, known for its savagery, as ‘animals’ and frequently referenced them when discussing migration.
Migrants have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in higher numbers over the past few months, including over 170,000 people in March alone, the largest single-month total in well over a decade.
A large number are unaccompanied minors, which has forced the administration to open its tenth temporary housing facility to accommodate these young arrivals.
The vast majority of adults are immediately sent back to Mexico.
The border patrol say they are currently detaining around 5,000 people a day.
The U.S. government does not release data on terrorist detentions along the border with Mexico: in 2018 the figure was given as six by Axios, and around a dozen by CNN.
In January 2018, a joint report by the Homeland Security and Justice departments stated that Homeland Security had 2,554 ‘encounters’ worldwide with people on a watch list who were trying to travel to the U.S.
Of them, 2,170 were trying to come by air, with 335 by land and the rest by sea.
Migrants, departing from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are seen after crossing the Rio Grande River, in Texas, overnight
The number of migrants trying to cross the Mexican border to the USA jumped to 171,000 in March, the highest monthly number since 2006
In 2019, Trump declared during a Rose Garden speech: ‘We have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that’s probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and they make a left.’
Todd Bensman, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration and stronger defenses against terrorist infiltration, estimated in 2019 that around 20 terrorist suspects are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border every year.
The first suspect, aged 33, was apprehended January 29 approximately at 1:10am local time after he tried to cross the border illegally about three miles west from the Calexico Port of Entry.
Agents discovered a cellular phone sim card hidden inside the insole of his shoe.
A second individual, 26, was picked up by agents on March 30 at approximately 11:30pm.
Ceidy, an asylum-seeking migrant mother from Guatemala, kisses her 3-month-old baby Bridget while waiting to be escorted by the U.S. Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande River on Wednesday
Children and babies crossed the Rio Grande overnight with their parents in small inflatable rafts to enter the country through Roma, Texas
Migrants, departing from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, are seen crossing the Rio Grande River Wednesday night
Babies and young children accompanied migrants across the Rio Grande River into the United States Wednesday night
Water bottles are passed out to migrants after they crossed the Rio Grande River Wednesday night
A migrant woman holds a young child in her arms after crossing the Rio Grande
A CBP spokesperson contacted by DailyMail.com declined to provide the names of the men.
Kamala’s schedule since becoming ‘Border Czar’
March 25 – Washington DC: Virtual Passover
March 26 – New Haven, Connecticut: meeting with Boys and Girls Club and education leaders
March 27-28 – Washington DC: no public commitments
March 29 – Washington DC: Covid briefing and delivering pandemic remarks
March 30 – Washington DC: Signed the PPP extension into law and spoke with Guatemalan President
April 1 – Washington DC/Los Angeles, California: Met with stakeholders before traveling to her Brentwood home
April 2-4 – Los Angeles: At home with no public commitments
April 5 – Oakland, California: Met Gavin Newsom, toured water treatment plant and met business leaders
April 6 – Chicago, Illinois: Toured a Covid vaccination site before returning to Washington DC
The government does not disclose how many people are on the no-fly list, although in June 2016 Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said that there were around 81,000 people on the list, of whom fewer than 1,000 were U.S. citizens.
Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, wracked by decades of civil war, is described by UN as suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Four million people have been forced from their homes.
A group of Republican lawmakers that visited the border in El Paso, Texas, in March said border agents told them during the trip that some people caught crossing the border were on a U.S. terrorism watchlist.
McCarthy traveled to the southern border March 15 and told reporters that after meeting with Border Patrol agents, he had learned that individuals with links to terror organizations were rushing the border.
‘It’s not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador,’ he said.
‘They’re now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they’re rushing in all at once.’
Republicans have criticized Biden for easing some restrictions put in place by the former president as the number of border crossings has risen in recent months.
The watchlist is maintained by the FBI Terrorism Screening Center.
The list contains ‘the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activities,’ according to the FBI.
Overall, few migrants caught crossing the southern border match people on the FBI’s terror watchlist, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The libertarian CATO Institute said that from 1975 through 2017, seven people who entered the U.S. illegally from ‘special interest’ countries — states tied at least loosely to terrorism — were convicted of planning attacks on U.S. soil.
None crossed from Mexico. They came from Canada or jumped ship in U.S. ports, and all before special interest countries were classified as such.
The plots were foiled and no one was hurt.
The only known terrorists who crossed illegally from Mexico in those decades were three ethnic Albanians from Macedonia who came as children with their parents in 1984 and, in their 20s, were arrested in the foiled plot to attack the Fort Dix, New Jersey, Army base in 2007, the CATO study found. They were not from a special-interest country.
Migrants are seen in border facilities, with one man charging his phone, on Wednesday
On Wednesday the White House defended Vice President Kamala Harris for having not yet visited the border, which she is supposedly overseeing.
During Wednesday’s briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the vice president’s recent travel to Chicago, as opposed to the southern border.
‘She hasn’t visited the border or Central America or spoken with leaders of El Salvador or Honduras,’ New York Post reporter Steven Nelson pointed out to Psaki. ‘She was traveling this week, took time to visit a bakery in Chicago. I’m wondering, is she still working on this and can you address the perception that she’s sort of quietly backing off while Secretary Mayorkas is pursuing some Trump-era policies?’
While in the Windy City, Harris visited a local bakery.
‘I would say the vice president was visiting Chicago to talk about COVID and the importance of communities getting the vaccine when it is available and accessible to them,’ Psaki explained.
‘While she was there, like many Americans, she got a snack. I think she’s allowed to do that.’