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Pentagon Confirms It Will House Up to 20,000 Migrant Children  


This undated photo provided by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families shows the shelter used to house unaccompanied foreign children in Tornillo, Texas.

The Pentagon has agreed to house on military bases as many as 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children who illegally crossed the U.S. southern border.

Pentagon spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis told VOA Thursday that the Defense Department had accepted a request for assistance with migrant detainees from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Defense Department is now figuring out the logistics of how to provide up to 20,000 temporary beds for the migrant children.

The government has looked at three bases in Texas and one in Arkansas as possible housing locations. Davis stressed, however, that the base visits did not guarantee that any or all of the children would be placed in those locations.

“Our department typically has the land resources needed to fulfill a request like this,” Davis said, “but we still have to work out the infrastructure needs.”

The request is specifically for housing unaccompanied migrant children and does not include children who have crossed the border illegally with their parents and have become separated from the adults after being detained.

“That is a separate issue,” Davis told VOA.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that keeps children and parents together for at least 20 days after they are apprehended for crossing the border illegally.

The Pentagon most likely will have no role in operating the temporary shelters once completed, Davis said.

Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas and Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Fort Bliss in Texas are the bases that have been looked at as potential housing sites.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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