Fed-Backed Group Drops Plan to Buy Fancy Hotel to House Illegals
UPDATE, 8:36p ET: A plan to house hundreds of illegal immigrant children at a multimillion-dollar hotel complex in Texas was scuttled after the prospect of taxpayers footing the bill for luxury lodging proved too much of a public relations obstacle.
Read original story below:
The Obama administration could soon be housing hundreds of illegal immigrant children at a multimillion-dollar hotel complex in Texas, just a few miles from the Mexican border – and it could cost taxpayers nearly $50 million, sources with knowledge of the deal tell me.
“It’s an extraordinarily expensive operation,” said an official with knowledge of the plans. “We’re talking tens of millions of dollars. It’s a lot of money.”
BCFS, previously known as Baptist Child and Family Services, which has a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to run camps at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Fort Sill in Oklahoma, is negotiating to purchase thePalm Aire Hotel in Weslaco, Texas, for $3.8 million. The hotel was built in the 1980s and includes traditional hotel rooms and suites.
“This facility is part of the solution for alleviating overcrowded conditions seen in Border Patrol facilities as a result of the increase in migration from Central America,” BCFS spokesman Asennet Segura said in a prepared statement.
“This facility will be largely self-contained and provide a safe setting for the community to respond to this influx, as well as the children who are separated from their families.”
And they’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of illegal immigrants.
BCFS says they could house as many as 600 children between the ages of 12-17 at the Palm Aire. It also plans to provide medical and mental health care and educational and recreational programs.
“The centralized intake facility will be the first of its kind in the nation, allowing for quick transfer of children from Border Patrol custody and expedited release to their families,” Segura said.
Once it’s fully operational, the facility will cost taxpayers around $50 million, a source with knowledge of the expenses told me.
“Frankly, it’s a lot of money -- no question about it,” my source said, adding that American taxpayers “will be furious” when they receive the total bill.
I reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services for comment but have not received a response.
The Palm Aire Hotel is not exactly Club Med -- but the 7-acre site features three swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, concierge service and a Jacuzzi. The property also has around 10,000 square feet of retail and meeting space.
I called and spoke to one of the owners of the hotel who confirmed the pending sale but stressed that they were not responsible for what replaces their business.
BCFS said it plans a multimillion-dollar renovation to fence in the property and turn the meeting rooms into medical facilities. It plans to remove the tennis courts and put in soccer fields.
It also plans to hire 650 workers – some making upward of $45 per hour. If you’re doing the math, that’s more than $16 million annually in salaries and benefits. And every paycheck will be covered by American tax dollars.
“It’s going to be an expensive contract,” my source said. “It’s like running a hospital, 24/7.”
My BCFS source said having a facility so close to the border will save money over time, and it wants the hotel to become a one-stop facility – a place where the children can undergo medical screening and behavioral screening. It also hopes to house immigration courts at the hotel. They anticipate children staying at the facility no longer than 15 days at a time.
“This is better than scattering kids all over the United States without the proper screening,” my source told me. “All these services need to be on the border.”
Meanwhile, the illegals should not expect concierge service at the poolside cabanas. BCFS tells me it will more than likely fill in the swimming pools with dirt.
More from Todd Starnes: