The Department of Health and Human Services is considering building tent cities to temporarily house migrant children, McClatchy reported Tuesday, at least one of which would have the capacity to house between 1,000 and 5,000 children.
HHS is responsible for taking temporary custody of so-called “unaccompanied alien children,” when either they cross into the United States without their parents, or, in accordance with a new Trump administration policy, they are separated from their parents.
In the coming weeks, unnamed officials told McClatchy, HHS will visit Fort Bliss, an Army base near El Paso, to inspect one possible location for a tent city. Several outlets reported last month that HHS was considering housing migrant children on military bases, as it did in briefly in 2014.
Unnamed HHS officials confirmed to McClatchy, in the publication’s words, “that they’re looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for potential use as temporary shelters.”
The report noted that HHS’ shelters for undocumented immigrant children are 95 percent full; 10,000 children are currently in HHS custody as they wait to be paired with sponsors with whom they’ll live as their cases proceed.
Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy of criminally prosecuting everyone caught crossing the border illegally. Because children cannot be put into criminal detention facilities, the new policy requires that the government separate children from their parents.