Sen. Marsha Blackburn has done the math.
The Tennessee Republican's interest was piqued after the Biden administration announced its intention to spend nearly $87 million to house 1,200 foreigners who illegally cross the border in hotel rooms in the U.S.
"As the current contract stands, the cost to taxpayers for housing 1,200 migrant families for six months is about $71,000 per person," Blackburn wrote in a letter Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Tae Johnson. "For a family of four, that amounts to a shocking $284,000 – enough to buy a small house."
Earlier this month, the administration awarded ICE an $86.9 million contract through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors, which will provide hotel rooms near the border for temporary shelter. But Blackburn also questions how the group spends its money.
She said Endeavors in 2018 collected more than $38 million in contributions and grants but noted that "IRS filings show that nearly $22 million or almost half of those contributions went to salaries."
"This raises questions if half of the $86.9 million in ICE contract proceeds will likewise be allocated toward employee and executive compensation instead of migrant services or housing," Blackburn wrote in her letter.
She also expressed concerns that Endeavors' CEO Jon Allman has not provided "specific details about the contract."
"It is unclear whether this nonprofit has ever previously managed a contract of this magnitude, housed a migrant population of this size or served vulnerable children without putting them at further risk," Blackburn wrote. "DHS and ICE must provide commitments to assure Congress and the American public that Endeavors is up for the task of securely and efficiently housing illegal immigrants without resulting in waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars, or worse, harming vulnerable migrant children."
Blackburn asked for answers by April 15.