After a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD) recently identified one Air Force base in Texas as a potential site for housing illegal immigrants and their families.
If the base – Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo – is chosen and the plan is carried out to construct temporary housing for the migrants, illegal immigrants would outnumber military personnel on the base at a rate of 4 to 1, according to Military Times.
The west Texas base, built in 1940, houses schools on defense intelligence and joint firefighting, and currently serves as home to 5,500 airmen, Marines, soldiers and sailors who attend the schools.
Goodfellow may soon house 20,000 unaccompanied minors who were detained for their illegal entry into the U.S. Fort Bliss in El Paso was also chosen as a site to house thousands of criminal illegal immigrants and their families.
On Monday, Army spokesman Col. Rob Manning confirmed during a Pentagon briefing that Goodfellow would hold up to 20,000 unaccompanied minors who arrived in the U.S. alone, and Fort Bliss would take up to 12,000 undocumented families.
President Trump signed an executive order ending the widely criticized separation of families at the border. Although many families have not yet been reunited, the plans for constructing temporary housing on military bases are oriented on housing families together.
The agreement stipulates that the DOD has 45 days to open or construct facilities capable of housing the first 2,000 migrants.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reviewed both bases, along with several other potential bases.
The Pentagon has received formal requests from DHS and HHS in recent weeks to provide room to house as many as 32,000 detained immigrants on its bases, said Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman. https://t.co/ow7ZMTiZei @CDicksteinDC
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) July 3, 2018
The HHS will be responsible for feeding and caring for the unaccompanied minors, while the DOD will carry out base security, Military Times reported.
Manning said they’re considering the impact on the bases and their infrastructure caused by the large population of immigrants.
“Really our responsibility is to find suitable land parcels in order to be able to support those populations that they’ve requested,” he said. “We’ve done the assessment to determine that the bases that we’ve announced could support the population without any impact to the garrison.”
He added that the DOD is “looking at additional facilities so we can break up those populations, so we can manage the impact on the installations.”
The decision to house migrants on military bases has received heavy criticism. However, bases have been used in the past to house unaccompanied migrant children.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addressed the criticism last week when he said: “Providing housing, shelter for those who need it, is a legitimate governmental function.”
Only unused space on military bases will be used for migrant housing, and military personnel will not be involved in the efforts of caring for migrants.