Trump administration looking to house 20K migrant kids on military bases

23 June, 2018, 01:36 | Author: Wade Massey
  • John Moore  Getty Images North America

The Pentagon says the request is specifically for unaccompanied minors (UACs), not for children who were separated from their parents at the border.

Several officials emphasized that the possibility of housing undocumented immigrant children on military bases had existed during the Obama administration. Representatives from HHS visited three bases in Texas - Fort Bliss, Dyess Air Force Base and Goodfellow Air Force Base - last week to review their facilities for suitability, and they were scheduled to review Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas on Wednesday, Davis said. The Pentagon said it will have no role in operating the temporary shelters, which would be controlled by HHS.

The Obama administration temporarily set up temporary centers in 2014 at three USA military bases: Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and Naval Base Ventura County in California.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters on June 20 that the USA military has housed refugees before.

He also said his agency has plenty of experience housing people who are displaced from their homes for a variety of reasons.

"We have housed refugees", he said.

The decision follows a request from the US Department of Health and Human Services "to determine its capabilities to provide up to 20,000 temporary beds for unaccompanied alien children at DoD (Department of Defense) installations", Pentagon spokesperson Jamie Davis told AFP.

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to keep together children and parents apprehended for crossing the border illegally for at least 20 days.

Separately, the Defense Department is detailing 21 military attorneys to the Justice Department for up to six months to prosecute illegal immigrants, with a focus on misdemeanor improper entry and felony illegal reentry cases, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday.

Border patrol agents detain a asylum seekers, including children, near McAllen, Texas.

The Defense Department will house up to 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on military bases in coming months, a Pentagon official said Thursday, the latest twist in the Trump administration's immigration enforcement effort. A federal prosecutor said "there was no prosecution sought" in light of Trump's executive order ending the practice of separating families.

The New York Democrat also wondered how the Trump administration was keeping track of families separated under its "zero tolerance" policy on illegal border crossings.

The Defense Department is also getting involved in prosecuting some adults charged with unlawfully entering the United States. "We support [the Department of Homeland Security] and right now this is their lead and we'll respond if requested", Mattis told reporters.

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