National Security

DHS seeking private contractor for migrant camp on Guantánamo Bay

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The Biden administration is seeking a private contractor to reopen a migrant detention facility on Guantánamo Bay with a surge capacity of up to 400 people. 

A solicitation for bids, first reported by NBC News, requests employees who are fluent in Haitian Creole and comes as thousands of Haitian migrants are camped out in Del Rio, Texas. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement to The Hill that none of those migrants would end up in the Guantánamo facility. 

The contract posting says the detention center will house 20 migrants daily and have a capacity of 120 people but that “the service provider shall be responsible to maintain on site the necessary equipment to erect temporary housing facilities for populations that exceed 120 and up to 400 migrants in a surge event.”

The advertisement noted that the contractor must be able to have tents and cots ready to be assembled on little notice. The advertisement said it was seeking 50 people to work at the facility, including at least 10 percent of employees who are fluent in Haitian Creole and Spanish.

The news comes as the Biden administration has restarted flying Haitians back to their country, sparking anger and frustration from human rights advocates and some lawmakers who note Haiti is reeling from the assassination of its former president and a devastating earthquake. 

The timing of the bid led to suggestions in news reports that the facility might house some of those Haitian migrants currently camped out on the border. But DHS insisted that wasn’t the case. 

“DHS is not and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantanamo Bay,” a DHS spokesperson told The Hill in a statement.

“The MOC has been used for decades to process migrants interdicted at sea for third-country resettlement. The request for information (RFI) recently posted is a typical, routine first step in a contract renewal, and unrelated to the Southwest Border.” 

The facility, which is located on the same U.S. naval base as the notorious military prison, last housed migrants in 2017, according to the Global Detention Project.

Roughly 12,000 Haitians who came to the U.S. in the early ’90s seeking asylum were sent to Guantánamo Bay, according to NBC News.

Tags Department of Homeland Security DHS Guantánamo Bay Haiti immigrant detention center

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