HHS Reviewing Six Bases to House Unaccompanied Minors

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is conducting site assessments at six military installations to potentially house unaccompanied children to accommodate the latest surge of undocumented children illegally crossing into the United States through the Mexican border, defense officials have told lawmakers.In an email to Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Matthew Rhoades, policy chief for DOD’s office of legislative affairs, said HHS will assess the viability of the following bases for use as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied children:Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base (Gunter Annex), Ala.Tyndall AFB, Fla.Grand Forks AFB, N.D.Naval Support Activity Philadelphia, Pa.Hanscom AFB, Mass.Travis AFB, Calif.“Please note this is only a preliminary assessment — no final decision has been made regarding the use of any of these facilities,” Rhoades noted.360 reported earlier this month that the federal government was considering Grand Forks AFB as a candidate shelter. In December, the Alamogordo Daily News reported that Defense Secretary Ash Carter directed Holloman AFB, N.M., to provide temporary housing for up to 400 refugee children from Central America beginning in January.The federal government’s actions appear to be a response to a second surge of unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s southern border to escape gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In 2014 the government used three installations — Fort Sill, Okla.; Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Texas; and Naval Base Ventura, Port Hueneme, Calif. — to house a total of 7,700 immigrant children over a period of several months.Those shelters were shut down due to exorbitant costs and a sudden drop in the number of minors crossing the border illegally, reported Fox News Latino.Lawmakers from several of the locations newly under consideration have criticized the possible use of those bases to house detainees. Roby called it a “terrible idea.”“A military base is no place to house illegal immigrant children. Bases like Maxwell are engaged in real military activities — training, education, cyberwarfare — many times in classified settings that are very sensitive. Their mission does not need to be distracted by housing, feeding and securing hundreds of detainees,” Roby wrote in a letter to the secretaries of defense, homeland security, and health and human services.last_img

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