The Trump administration is making preparations to house immigrant children at military bases as it prepares to implement a plan to separate far more kids from their parents caught crossing the Mexican border illegally, reports The Washington Post.
Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make site visits at four military installations in Texas and Arkansas during the next two weeks to evaluate their suitability to shelter minors under 18 who arrive at the border without an adult relative or after the government has separated them from their parents, according to an email notification sent to Pentagon staffers.
The email characterized the visits as a preliminary assessment and asserts that “no decisions have been made at this time.”
According to the Post:
An official at HHS confirmed the military site visits, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plans are not yet public. The official said that HHS currently has the bed space to hold 10,571 children.
The agency’s Administration for Children and Families said in a statement that its programs require “routinely evaluating the needs and capacity of an existing network of approximately 100 shelters in 14 states.”
“Additional properties with existing infrastructure are routinely being identified and evaluated by federal agencies as potential locations for temporary sheltering,” the statement said.
Those facilities are at 91 percent capacity, the HHS official said, and the Trump administration’s crackdown plans could push thousands more children into government care. The official said that DHS has not provided projections for how many additional children to expect.
Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Tom Homan, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced plans to step up criminal prosecutions of immigrant parents caught illegally crossing the border with their children, separating immigrant families.