Trump Administration To Hold Immigrant Minors At Military Bases

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 17, 2018

The Washington Post reports the Little Rock Air Force Base is one of four military installations that may be used as temporary housing for immigrant children who cross the U.S. -Mexico border illegally, according to an email sent to Pentagon staff by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The bases would be reportedly used as shelters for minors whoa arrive at the border without an adult or who have been separated from their families by the government. "No decisions have been made at this time", it states. CBP provided media tours Wednesday at two locations in Brownsville and Nogales, Ariz., that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since October 1.

An official at HHS confirmed the military site visits.

If Trump goes ahead with the plan to house children at military bases, he would be following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, which sent more than 7,000 immigrant children to live at military bases in Oklahoma, Texas and California during the 2014 migrant crisis. The official said that HHS now has the bed space to hold 10,571 children.

Many of these immigrants are Central Americans seeking asylum, usually from the inhabitable conditions in their homelands. US border agents arrested more than 100,000 illegal border-crossers in March and April, the highest monthly totals since Trump took office.

Trump has reportedly ordered to "close" the borders over the increasing number of immigrants attempting to cross in the US, putting the blame on Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned last week that parents who cross the border illegally with their children will have them taken away. The Washington Post reported that, aside from being held on military bases, some of the separated children could end up in foster care.

"If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law", Sessions said in a speech last week.

If that proposed plan is meant to deter families from crossing the border for fear of separation, it ignores that that's already been a threat and immigrant parents and children already often find themselves pulled apart. "It's not our fault that somebody does that". However, in Senate testimony in April, the acting assistant HHS secretary, Steven Wagner, said the government lost track of 1,475 immigrant children after placing them in foster care. The agency conducts background checks on potential sponsors for the minors, and in 85 percent of cases the children are released to a parent or other adult relative already present in the United States, the official said.

However, it is not the first time military bases will be used to hold immigrant children.

Critics have denounced Trump administration move to separate children from families, claiming it inflicts great trauma on the children.

President Trump has railed against his administration officials about the increased illegal immigration numbers. Military personnel have been deployed in a supporting role, and are not allowed to arrest migrants. When the military has loaned space at its facilities in the past, HHS has reimbursed the Defense Department and the military has had little to do with the operation.

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