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Trump Administration Prepares to Use Military Bases to Hold Immigrant Children

The Trump administration has been making preparations to have military bases hold immigrant children of families who cross the border illegally.

In an email sent to Pentagon staffers, the Defense Department said that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will conduct site visits at four military bases in Texas and Arkansas to check if they are suitable to shelter children.

The bases that will be visited include:

  • Fort Bliss
  • Goodfellow Air Force Base
  • Dyess Air Force Base
  • Little Rock Air Force Base

The military bases will be used for minor children under 18 who cross the border without an adult relative, or after the government has separated them from their parents. Among its many responsibilities, HHS provides minors with foster care until another adult relative can be given custody.

The email says that the visits to these sites are a preliminary assessment and states, “No decisions have been made at this time.”

According to an anonymous HHS official who confirmed the military site visits, HHS currently has the bed space to accommodate 10,571 children.

HHS’s Administration for Children and Families claims its programs have to “routinely evaluate the needs and capacity of an existing network of approximately 100 shelters in 14 states.” The statement goes onto say, “Additional properties with existing infrastructure are routinely being identified and evaluated by federal agencies as potential locations for temporary sheltering.”

The HHS official says that the 100 shelters are functioning at 91% capacity. The crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration will likely push thousands of children into government care. Projections for exactly how many children HHS should expect have not yet been provided by DHS.

Officials from the Trump administration say they have been taking more forceful actions to stop the increase in the number of families crossing the border illegally this spring. Many of these families are Central Americans seeking asylum. In March and April, boarder agents arrested over 100,000 people who crossed the border illegally. This marked the highest monthly totals since President Trump took office.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said the government will take measures to file criminal charges against anyone who crosses the border illegally, this includes parents who are traveling with their children. In most cases, adults will be held at immigration jails until their court dates, while their children will be put into foster care.

In a speech, Sessions said, “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.”

On average, children kept in HHS custody spend 45 days in the government’s care. HHS conducts background checks on interested sponsors for the minors and the kids are given educational and recreational opportunities. 85 percent of cases see the children released to a parent or adult relative already living in the U.S.

Have you been separated from your child after crossing the border? Contact our Daytona Beach team of immigration lawyers to discuss how we can help you.

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