CNN repeated a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is paying to escort child migrants “across the border” into the U.S.
On June 24 CNN's John Berman spoke with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) about the recent influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to escape violence in Central America. Berman referenced a government contractor procurement advertisement DHS had posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website on January 29, describing it as a solicitation for “escort services to help children across the border.”
The notion that DHS solicited companies to help undocumented children cross into the U.S. actually started on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' website InfoWars.com, which cited the January 29 ad to claim that DHS was set to pay for “illegal minors up to the age of 17 to be escorted into the United States.”
The Drudge Report later highlighted the InfoWars story with the headline “Claim: 'Homeland' Paying For Illegals to be Escorted Into USA,” while the Washington Examiner asked, “Does this Jan. 29, 2014, contract bid request 'prove' Obama planned migrant child flood at the border?”
But the January 29 procurement contract did not seek help transporting child migrants into the U.S.
Instead, the contract requested help transporting children who have already been apprehended within the U.S., moving the migrants to temporary shelters while they await deportation proceedings. The advertisement made clear that the carriers would only be contracted to operate within the U.S.:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has a continuing and mission critical responsibility for accepting custody of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) from U.S. Border Patrol and other Federal agencies and transporting these juveniles to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters located throughout the continental United States. ICE is seeking the services of a responsible vendor that shares the philosophy of treating all UAC with dignity and respect, while adhering to standard operating procedures and policies that allow for an effective, efficient, and incident free transport.
Service Area: Throughout the Continental United States.
The area(s) or region(s) serviced may occur either with a phased approach over a period of several months to a full year. Alternatively, the Contractor shall perform the entire transportation function upon full funding. For example, the following two circumstances may occur: (1) The contractor could initially provide transportation services only in the Southwest Region of the U.S. for those juveniles who are apprehended in the state of Texas; or, (2) The Contractor may be required to provide transportation services for all juveniles who are in DHS custody throughout the continental U.S.