PECOS, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The Pecos Migrant Holding Facility is in the process of constructing additions to its current location along with some new employee housing. Now, two small towns struggle to make sense of what these camps mean for their communities.
How it Began
Sixteen months ago, the city was told that the migrant facility would be temporarily housing children who had been displaced through migration at a former oilfield man camp in Pecos. The issue was not up for vote or approval by the citizens of Pecos or its elected officials. And, in March of 2021, Endeavors was asked by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), through a no bid process, to facilitate the creation of this “temporary emergency holding” facility. The payout for this no-bid project was said to have been worth up to $575 million. According to City officials, it is estimated that the facility has profited around $450,000,000.00 to date.
Who is Endeavors and what does it have to do with these camps? Endeavors website explains its connection with ORR in these exact words: “For years, children have been coming to the United States to escape poverty, violence, and exploitation in their home country. After crossing the border, children who are unaccompanied by an adult are placed into the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) care, and a sponsor is identified. Endeavors was awarded a federal grant to help this population. Utilizing years of experience providing home studies for children in Texas, Endeavors also provides home studies and post-release services to unaccompanied children. We have served migrants since 2012.”
Today the camp expansions include an expansion to the current facility housing children as well as a new housing facility for employees of the camp. On a daily basis, the migrant facility receives around 10-13 bus loads of migrants as well as out of town employees coming in to work at camp. Passers by can catch a glimpse of the workers walking in to the facility every morning from various hotels and apartments around the facility.
Migrant Facility Impacts on Pecos
As a temporary site, the Pecos facility was slated to be an interim location until a state licensed site could be completed in Eagle Lake, Texas by ORR. However, residents of Pecos have begun to notice that there is an expansion of the facility taking place. The Town of Pecos City Manager, Charles Lino, stated that Endeavors had not given the city any notice during the planning stages of the project and that they only learned of the expansion after the building permits were submitted.
He said “It’s difficult when you have to say ‘I don’t know’ to the public as a city leader.” He wanted to be clear that it isn’t whether or not the city wants the camps or not, it’s about the fact that there is no information being given to the city concerning the camp.
To date, the city has not been compensated for the loss of HOT Taxes, waste, water and other utilities being used at the facility as expressed by the original conversations during the onset of the project. Although, employment at Endeavors is a highly sought after commodity by locals, Lino states that several of the city and county employees have been hired by Endeavors as the local government offices are not able to pay what Endeavors is offering their employees. Even without benefits, the younger city employees are choosing to leave the city and county positions to take jobs at Endeavors. The estimated count of employees at the Pecos site is around 1350.
The “Permanent” Solution
As far as the Eagle Lake facility is concerned; we spoke to Interim City Manager for Eagle Lake, Kris Abbott, who stated that he was told the facility that was being built was also supposed to be temporary.
“It was not well received by the residents of Eagle Lake,” stated Abbot.
From the beginning, he says, they were not told much. There has been little to no communication between Endeavors and the City of Eagle Lake. However, Abbott stated that the build was supposed to have been halted due to some non-specified discrepancies and still continues to be built as of today. And, according to the Endeavors website; “Endeavors is preparing to open a permanent shelter for unaccompanied children in Eagle Lake, a community project that will fill a critical need”.
KMID reached out to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and was given this statement:
“We care for unaccompanied immigrant children at the direction of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in Washington, DC. It is their policy that any questions about the possibility of increasing care for children should be directed to them. You can contact them at 202.401.9215 or email@example.com.”Jeff Eller/Endeavors Spokesperson
KMID has reached out to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and is waiting for comment.