Once again, the Pentagon has been asked to identify military bases for the detention of thousands of migrant children, a spokesperson said Thursday. Lt. Col. Jamie Davis announced that on March 5, the Department of Health and Human Services requested the Pentagon “identify space to house up to 5,000 unaccompanied alien children on DoD installations, if needed, through September 30, 2019.” An additional request will follow to “execute such support” if HHS deems it necessary.
HHS is the government’s custodian of unaccompanied migrant children, both those who cross the border without adults and those whom the Trump administration takes from their parents as part of its family-separation policy. Last year, it and the Department of Homeland Security first asked the Pentagon to identify bases for detaining thousands of undocumented immigrants, both adults and children. Subsequent requests to the Pentagon to put the migrant-detention plan in motion on those bases were expected by Pentagon officials but did not materialize. Last year, HHS examined four bases for the potential detention of thousands of migrants. HHS told The Daily Beast last year: “HHS has done preliminary site visits to DoD properties at Goodfellow, Bliss, Dyess, and Little Rock and a few other non-DoD properties to determine the potential for possible future use as temporary emergency shelters for unaccompanied alien children. No decision has been made to use any of these properties at this time.”
— Spencer Ackerman