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The Biden administration is looking for contractors and guards for a migrant detention facility in Guantanamo Bay - stirring outrage in lawmakers and advocates

·4-min read
guantanamo bay
In this Wednesday, April 17, 2019 photo reviewed by U.S. military officials, the control tower is seen through the razor wire inside the Camp VI detention facility in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. Alex Brandon, File/Associated Press
  • The Biden administration is seeking to run a migrant detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, per NBC News.

  • A government contract solicitation says that guards must speak Spanish and Haitian Creole.

  • The listing comes as the Biden administration has struggled to accommodate Haitian migrants.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As the Biden administration struggles to process an influx of Haitian refugees at the US Southern border, it is seeking a private contractor to open a migrant detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, according to NBC News.

In a public government contract solicitation, the Department of Homeland Security says that it seeks to establish the facility at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with a capacity of holding 120 people.

The solicitation also includes a requirement that guards running the facility speak Spanish and Haitian Creole.

"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 solicitation says.

Insider reached out to the White House for comment.

"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 Insider.

"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 contract was initially awarded in 2002 with the current term ending on May 31, 2022," the spokesperson added.

The NBC News report has stirred up frustration within immigrant rights organizations that have also been demanding that the administration end Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health order started during the Trump administration that has effectively closed border crossings and enabled the rejection of asylum seekers.

The Biden administration, however, has chosen to defend Title 42 in court. It said this week that it plans to appeal a judge's decision to challenge Title 42.

"The treatment of Haitians and Black migrants by the Biden administration is inhumane and unacceptable," the Immigrant Justice Network told Insider in a statement. "For months, advocates have called on the Biden administration to end Title 42, a Trump-era policy that has been used to deport thousands of asylum seekers."

"We call on President Biden to immediately stop deportations and grant Haitian migrants humanitarian parole," the statement added, "Sending Haitian migrants to Guantanamo Bay, a place known for human rights abuses, was a mistake in the 1990s and would be a mistake now."

Although most famously known as a controversial holding site for terror suspects, in the early 1990s, the US sent up to 12,000 Haitian migrants attempting to seek refuge in Florida to migrant detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, under the George H.W. Bush administration. According to NBC News, the policy was ideated by then-Attorney General William Barr.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the proposed Guantanamo Bay move "utterly shameful," in a tweet on Wednesday.

Bob Carey, the former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Barack Obama administration, told Insider that, "There are few good solutions for the administration during a time of multiple crises in the context of COVID."

"While the use of Guantanamo is a regrettable solution, it is far better than forced return to Haiti in the context of current conditions there," he added. "Guantanamo is outside the US and that has legal implications as well, but wherever people are, they have a right to make an asylum claim."

In recent weeks, as thousands of Haitians have crossed mainly into Del Rio, Texas, fleeing instability, an earthquake, and violence in Haiti, the Biden administration has resumed deportation flights to Haiti, and scenes of border agents on horseback scattering Haitian migrants have stirred outrage and prompted an official rebuke from the administration.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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