The U.S. military plans to supply and construct six tent cities at separate sites close to the border to house migrants.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is expected to sign his approval on the tent cities request made by the Department of Homeland Security, NBC News reported Wednesday.
The tents aren’t expected to be constructed on military bases, and once constructed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will assume control of all detention and support operations at the site.
“After discussions with DHS on the details of the RFA, DHS has agreed to ask that DOD will loan and erect on-hand DOD tents in support of ICE, and provide contracting support to ICE for wraparound services for which ICE will reimburse DOD,” Maj. Chris Mitchell said. “DOD will not provide detention or custodial support for detained aliens at these ICE detention facilities.”
— The Hill (@thehill) May 15, 2019
The DHS faces overwhelming capacity for detained immigrants, and has been scrambling to find housing for migrant families since last year. They have had to release immigrants by the thousands into U.S. cities.
The single largest migrant processing center, the Central Processing Center located in McAllen, Texas, is already holding 2,400 migrants – 900 over its designed capacity.
U.S. immigration court already more than 800,000 cases awaiting hearings, and the backlog continues to increase with the influx of migrants from numerous Central American migrant caravans since October 2018.
DHS confirmed in March that the number of immigrants apprehended by border patrol officials has been increasing exponentially, and is on pace to reach one million by the end of the year.
Approximately 460,000 migrants were apprehended between October 2018 and April 2019. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost told a Senate panel earlier this month that the number would hit 500,000 that weekend, CNN had reported.
In 2009, 540,000 apprehensions were made for the entire year. Every year since has resulted in less than 500,000 apprehensions for the whole year.
“What makes these numbers so dramatically different than anything we’ve ever faced in the history of Border Patrol is the demographic,” a DHS official told CNN. “There continue to be record numbers of families and children arriving predominantly from the Northern triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with over 58,000 family members apprehended on the southern border in April.”
The excessive number of migrants entering the country has caused “dire concerns” due to the lack of detention space, forcing migrants to be held in temporary facilities for long periods of time.
“This is dangerously elevating the time in custody and poses serious, significant safety risks,” the official said.
President Donald Trump plans to announce a massive immigration overhaul that will transform the immigration system from a visa lottery to a merit-based process.
The purpose would be to attract those who are highly skilled and would have a positive contribution to the American economy and humanitarian values. It also wouldn’t change the number of immigrants allowed in the country — only the composition of those allowed.