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Navy plans to build migrant tent cities for up to 47,000 in CA, document reveals

Concord Naval Weapons Station, Concord, CA. August 25, 2006. (Daniel Schwen/WikiMedia Commons)
June 27, 2018

A U.S. Navy internal document outlined its plan to use Navy sites around the country to construct and operate tent cities to house migrants, including one camp in California that could house up to 47,000 people.

The document was prepared to be signed by the Naval Secretary. It stated that 25,000 migrants would be placed at abandoned airfields throughout Florida and Alabama, with another 47,000 to be placed at southern California’s Camp Pendleton, and 47,000 more to be placed at the former Naval Weapons Station in Concord, California, San Francisco affiliate ABC 7 reported last week.

Details of the Navy’s plan to house migrants are still unclear, although the construction and operation of temporary tent cities at the Concord Naval Weapons Station will cost a reported $233 million for what are described as “austere” tent cities.

Concord city officials are reportedly surprised by the news of a local detention camp, and claimed the Navy has not communicated with them regarding the plan.

According to a statement released by the City of Concord, the city “is currently negotiating to acquire and eventually develop the Naval Weapons Station,” although it has no “jurisdiction or control over that federally-owned property.”

In a letter to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, Concord Mayor Edi Birsan referenced the 12 years the city has been negotiating with the Navy on developing the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

“To now withdraw from that process and shift to a transfer enabling a detention center would negate all those honorable efforts and reflect poorly on future negotiations here and elsewhere for the Navy,” Birsan wrote, as reported by East Bay Times.

Birsan also claimed that “significant acreage within the CNWS is still undergoing assessment and clean-up of Navy contamination and is not suitable for transfer nor human occupation.”

The Navy has been cleaning up the base since 1983, but the base is still said to be contaminated.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, who represents California’s 11th district in which Concord residents reside, condemned the reports.

He said that the local constituents are against the idea of a camp, and claimed the facility does not have enough capacity to house 47,000 people.

DeSaulnier was one of many to liken the migrant camps to Japanese internment camps.

“The idea that you put almost 50,000 people in a tent city facility in the middle of the Bay Area, an urban area, is absurd. This does remind me of World War II and Japanese internment. We don’t want to be a party to that,” he said.

Concord city officials said that a migrant detention center in their city does not represent their values.

Last year, the Concord City Council passed a resolution to assure residents that local law enforcement would not participate in federal immigration enforcement efforts, according to the Concord Patch. They also outlined their commitment to an inclusive and tolerant community.

Despite the language of the resolution, Concord insists it is not a sanctuary city policy.

Assistant City Manager Kathleen Trepa said: “This is not a resolution declaring ourselves a sanctuary city. It’s basically a statement of our values and our commitment to treat all our residents equally.”