ICE Plans to Transport 225,000 Immigrant Kids to Shelters Over the Next Five Years

The Trump administration is looking for a private contractor to move the dramatically increasing number of children detained at the US border with Mexico to shelters across the country.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it needs a “highly responsible” company to accompany tens of thousands of juvenile asylum seekers and families to the shelters every year, according to a newly issued federal procurement document reviewed by Quartz.

A draft solicitation dated May 13 seeks “on-demand escort services for non-criminal/non-delinquent UAC and FAMUs ranging from infants to 17 years of age and adults with a family, seven (7) days a week, 365 days a year.” (In US immigration terminology, “UACs” are “unaccompanied children,” and “FAMUs” are “family units.”).

The winning bidder will arrange commercial airline and bus trips for roughly 60,000 people per year, the document says. Over the course of a five-year contract, the contractor will transport an estimated 225,000 unaccompanied children from “infants to 17 years of age,” as well as adults with families, and will be responsible for everything from buying plane tickets to supplying food, clothing, and procuring healthcare while in transit.

The solicitation highlights both the changing nature of immigration on the US southern border, and the expanding reach of Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies. Trump is spending billions of taxpayer dollars to detain immigrants who have not committed any crime, move them to a growing number of detention centers, and house them there for weeks or months thanks in part to a “zero tolerance” policy that automatically puts asylum-seekers into government custody. This week, a fourth immigrant child in US custody died after being detained on the southern border.

By Justin Rohrlich & Heather Timmons for Q U A R T Z

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