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Scoop: ICE securing hotel rooms to hold growing number of migrant families

The Biden administration has awarded an $86 million contract for hotel rooms near the border to hold around 1,200 migrant family members who cross the U.S.-Mexico border, DHS officials confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: It's a sign of growing numbers of migrant families trying to come to the U.S. — in addition to already overwhelming numbers of kids crossing the border without their parents or legal guardians. Both trends appear to be straining government resources.


  • The contract through Endeavors, a Texas-based nonprofit, is for six months but could be extended and expanded. The hotels will be near border areas, including in Arizona and Texas.
  • ICE oversees the custody of migrant adults and families who cross the border illegally after they are apprehended by border patrol agents. The agency is already transforming its family detention facilities into rapid-processing centers with the goal of releasing families within 72 hours.
  • Regardless, the contracts with hotels point to the agency not being able to keep up with the growing numbers of families in its custody.

The big picture: Immigration agencies have used hotels in the past — as recently as last year for unaccompanied minors who the Trump administration was quickly expelling under an emergency public health order.

  • Hotel rooms are likely a safer option than border patrol stations, but do not have to follow the same safety protocols that official government detention spaces do.

By the numbers: The number of migrant family members caught crossing the southwest border more than doubled between January and February — rising from 7,000 to nearly 19,000, according to the most recently released agency data.

  • Border officials continue to use a Trump-era order to quickly return many families to Mexico. But Mexico has limited capacity to take in migrant families and won't accept some with young children, according to administration officials.
  • 42% of families were expelled to Mexico last month — down from 64% in January and 91% in October, according to the data. More than 13,000 family members who crossed the U.S. border illegally have been allowed into the country since the start of January, many released into border communities.
  • The Biden administration does not use the order to expel unaccompanied children, as the previous administration did.

What to watch: The Biden administration has been pressuring the Mexican government to increase its own immigration enforcement, to help slow the number of Central Americans making their way through the country to the U.S.-Mexico border, the New York Times and Washington Post have reported.

  • The U.S. is also giving more than 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Mexico.

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

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UN: 10,000 Palestinians flee homes in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Seven people, including one child, have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

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Bernie Sanders: The U.S. must recognize that "Palestinian rights matter"

The United States must encourage an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and adopt an "evenhanded approach" that recognizes Palestinians and Israelis have a right to "live in peace and security," Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote in a New York Times opinion on Friday.

Driving the news: Violence escalated this week after Israelis intensified efforts to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem. Hamas fired rockets and Israel massed troops, leaving more than 125 Palestinians and seven people in Israel dead.

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Uber launches new anti-racism efforts, hires new inclusive design lead

Eager to show progress on the pledge to make its platform and business anti-racist, Uber on Friday announced new anti-racism driver and rider campaigns, as well as fresh internal hiring practices, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Uber is one of the biggest ride hailing companies in the world. Its decisions impact the millions that use the platform, where drivers and riders alike say they have experienced racism.

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Ex-Gaetz associate admits to sex trafficking, agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors

Joel Greenberg, a former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to a variety of federal charges including sex trafficking a minor, New York Times reported Friday citing court papers.

Why it matters: Investigators believe Greenberg introduced women to Gaetz for paid sex and are looking into the Florida congressman's alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Greenberg could be a key witness as federal prosecutors decide whether to charge Gaetz.

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White House: User fees for infrastructure deal would "violate" Biden's tax pledge

The White House on Friday said that Republicans' idea to impose user fees for infrastructure spending would "violate" President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.

What they're saying: "The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."

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City of Columbus, Andre Hill's family agree to $10M settlement over the fatal police shooting

Columbus, Ohio, on Friday reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police as he walked out of a garage while holding a cellphone.

What they're saying: "We understand that because of this former officer's actions, the Hill family will never be whole," City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. "No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction."

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"Mass Effect": Gaming's biggest space opera returns

The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games.

Why it matters: There is no series like "Mass Effect" — even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it’s also about loyalty, love, and tough calls.

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