Immigration

Biden Administration To House Unaccompanied Migrant Children At San Antonio, El Paso Military Bases

The Department of Defense approved a request to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children at its Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and at El Paso’s Fort Bliss.

Exterior sign to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The Biden administration officially plans to use military bases in San Antonio and El Paso to house a growing number of unaccompanied migrant children in federal custody.

The Department of Defense approved a request to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children at its Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and at El Paso's Fort Bliss.

In a Wednesday statement, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Department of Health and Human Services will use a vacant dormitory at Lackland and an area of land on Fort Bliss to build a "suitable temporary housing facility."

Kirby said HHS will maintain full responsibility for the migrant children at all times, and military training and operations, including National Guard and Reserve readiness, will not be negatively impacted.

HHS has also eyed the Freeman Coliseum and other Bexar County buildings as potential sites to shelter migrant children, according to officials.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Tuesday said HHS and FEMA, which is helping take in migrant children, reached out to him about using the county's Freeman Coliseum as a temporary shelter for up to 60 days.

RELATED | More Than 250 Migrant Kids And Teens Test Positive For COVID-19 In Texas Shelters

He said the talks were preliminary and nothing had been confirmed, but Wolff said it was one of several sites that had been in discussion. The discussion included handling security, providing meals, and site management. He said he fully supports the possibility.

"It's a humanitarian effort. It's not a permanent solution," he said. "I think we talked to somewhere up to about 60 days and the fact that we have a large facility makes it a bit easier in the fact that it’s climate controlled."

HHS has already opened or announced five influx care facilities for migrant minors in Texas, including two in Carrizo Springs and one in Dallas, Midland and Pecos.

The second Carrizo Springs emergency shelter was also announced on Tuesday by HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement. It is planned to take in 500 migrant minors under 17 when the site is ready to safely receive children, the agency said in a statement.

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