Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary Immigration
By Rachell L. Awarns
York Times" -- -- The Army Corps of Engineers has
awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary
immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the
Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized for overcharging the
Pentagon for its work in Iraq.
KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for
an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of
a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional
detention space, company executives said. KBR, which announced the
contract last month, had a similar contract with immigration
agencies from 2000 to last year.
The contract with the Corps of Engineers runs one year, with four
optional one-year extensions. Officials of the corps said that they
had solicited bids and that KBR was the lone responder.
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jamie
Zuieback, said KBR would build the centers only in an emergency like
the one when thousands of Cubans floated on rafts to the United
States. She emphasized that the centers might never be built if such
an emergency did not arise.
"It's the type of contract that could be used in some kind of mass
migration," Ms. Zuieback said.
A spokesman for the corps, Clayton Church, said that the centers
could be at unused military sites or temporary structures and that
each one would hold up to 5,000 people.
"When there's a large influx of people into the United States, how
are we going to feed, house and protect them?" Mr. Church asked.
"That's why these kinds of contracts are there."
Mr. Church said that KBR did not end up creating immigration centers
under its previous contract, but that it did build temporary
shelters for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
Federal auditors rebuked the company for unsubstantiated billing in
its Iraq reconstruction contracts, and it has been criticized
because of accusations that Halliburton, led by Dick Cheney before
he became vice president, was aided by connections in obtaining
contracts. Halliburton executives denied that they charged
excessively for the work in Iraq.
Mr. Church said concerns about the Iraq contracts did not affect the
awarding of the new contract.
Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, who has
monitored the company, called the contract worrisome.
"With Halliburton's ever expanding track record of overcharging,
it's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust
Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," Mr. Waxman said. "With
each new contract, the need for real oversight grows."
In recent months, the Homeland Security Department has promised to
increase bed space in its detention centers to hold thousands of
illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. In the first quarter of the
2006 fiscal year, nearly 60 percent of the illegal immigrants
apprehended from countries other than Mexico were released on their
Domestic security officials have promised to end the releases by
increasing the number of detention beds. Last week, domestic
security officials announced that they would expand detaining and
swiftly deporting illegal immigrants to include those seized near
the Canadian border.
Advocates for immigrants said they feared that the new contract was
another indication that the government planned to expand the
detention of illegal immigrants, including those seeking asylum.
"It's pretty obvious that the intent of the government is to detain
more and more people and to expedite their removal," said Cheryl
Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Ms. Zuieback said the KBR contract was not intended for that.
"It's not part of any day-to-day enforcement," she said.
She added that she could not provide additional information about
the company's statement that the contract was also meant to support
the rapid development of new programs.
Halliburton executives, who announced the contract last week, said
they were pleased.
"We are especially gratified to be awarded this contract," an
executive vice president, Bruce Stanski, said in a statement,
"because it builds on our extremely strong track record in the arena
of emergency management support."
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