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Homeland Security asks DOD to provide housing for 12,000 migrants

The Pentagon. (Senior Airman Perry Aston/Defense Department)
June 28, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has submitted a request to the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide housing for migrants.

A statement by the DOD said it has been requested by DHS to identify adequate facilities to serve as temporary housing locations for up to 12,000 migrant families.

If facilities are unavailable, the request asks the DOD to “identify available DoD land and construct semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people at three separate locations.”

Preferred states for the facilities are Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California for easier access and surveillance. The facility locations must also comply with a provision in the Flores Settlement Agreement mandating that “reasonable efforts be made to place minors in the geographic area where the majority are apprehended.”

The request specifies housing for at least 2,000 people within 45 days. The additional capacity is expected for development over an allocated time period, with the potential to increase further.

The request comes a week after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon that the DOD would support the DHS in housing immigrant children if requested.

“We’ll see what they come in with,” Mattis said. “We support DHS, and right now this is their lead, and we’ll respond if requested,” The Hill reported.

On Sunday, Mattis told reporters that temporary shelters were already being constructed on two military bases to house migrants.

“The details are being worked out … about exactly how much capacity they need at the two bases, what other kinds of facilities they need built,” Mattis said, according to Reuters.

At the time, Mattis did not identify the names of the bases or their specific function.

Those details were later revealed, however.

One camp is expected to be built at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, where adults facing criminal charges will be held.

The second will be built at Goodfellow Air Force Base near San Angelo in central Texas, where unaccompanied minors will be held.

Of the DOD’s involvement in providing migrant housing, Mattis said the U.S. military has been providing migrant shelter for decades.

“Providing shelter for people without shelter, we consider that to be a logistics function that is quite appropriate,” he said.

Government officials are said to be assessing another base in Arkansas to serve as a migrant housing facility.