With the flood of illegal immigrants rushing the border, the U.S. military is preparing plans to hold, and care for up to 12,000 family members in detention facilities across the southwestern United States on military bases.
The new request comes addition to the plans to house as many as 20,000 immigrant children at Defense Department facilities who are apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult relative or are separated from parents.
The military is being asked to help provide space to hold the migrants because existing federal facilities are running out of capacity due to the waves of people, mostly from Central America, who are being swept into the system due to the Administration’s policy of referring all border crossers for prosecution. On Monday, Defense Secretary James Mattis identified two Texas military bases as the sites where migrants will be held: Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base.
The Trump Administration has yet to publicly identify where the groups of migrants will be held, but an official told TIME that Fort Bliss is being prepared to house families whose adults face criminal charges for the Department of Homeland Security. Fort Bliss, located near El Paso on the Rio Grande river across the U.S.-Mexico border, is an Army base comprised of more than 1 million acres across New Mexico and Texas.
Capacity is an urgent need. The Pentagon said in a statement late Wednesday it needs to be ready for as many as 2,000 people to be ready for detention within 45 days. A senior administration official says the 45-day timeline is likely to be on the long side. The official says the White House is pushing for a quicker ramp-up and expects the Pentagon will be able to deliver.
Meanwhile, the same Administration official says children who arrive on the U.S. border without a parent will stay at Goodfellow under a program run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The base is located further north near San Angelo in central Texas.
The military has had this role before. In 2014, the Obama Administration placed around 7,700 migrant children on bases in Texas, California and Oklahoma. The temporary shelters were shuttered after four months.
The Pentagon has also been asked to identify available land and “construct semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people, at three separate locations,” in the event of enough space not being available.
To read the entire article from Time, click here:
Photo: screenshot of an illegal immigrant video