The Pentagon announced on Monday that two bases in Texas will be building temporary housing for immigrants illegally crossing the country’s southern border.
Goodfellow Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Bliss were chosen by the Department of Defense to house immigrants. According to the Pentagon, one base will house unaccompanied children while the other will host families.
Defense Secretary James Mattis told The Associated Press Sunday that the Pentagon is preparing to build temporary housing for migrants at two U.S. military bases. Mattis said that plans for the housing were already in the works, but he would not name which two bases would be hosting temporary camps for immigrants.
The Pentagon said last week that officials at HHS requested housing for children at military installations “for occupancy as early as July through December 31, 2018.” A spokesman for the DOD said the department would make available space on military bases for as many as 20,000 migrant children.
The call for housing comes amid a backlash over the Trump Administration policy of “zero tolerance” for those coming into the country illegally. Under the zero-tolerance policy, any adult “believed to have committed any crime, including illegal entry,” is referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. Any child accompanying an adult entering the country illegally would be sent to a detention center, separated from the parent or guardian who would be sent to jail.
Video footage of separated children along with an audiotape of children crying for their parents sparked outrage over the policy.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order that said that from that point on, migrant families would be housed together, and reiterated the call for military bases to find space for facilities to house families.
Trump’s executive order called for the Department of Defense to “take all legally available measures” to provide the Department of Homeland Security with “any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families,” according to The Washington Post.
The Pentagon was also tasked with the construction of facilities “if necessary and consistent with law.”
HHS, the department that takes custody of “unattended” immigrant children, has toured facilities on four military bases to assess whether they would meet their needs for housing children. The bases are Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, and Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Fort Bliss in Texas.
Time magazine is reporting that the U.S. Navy is ready to construct detention centers that would house more than 100,000 immigrants.
The centers – said to be tent cities and described as “temporary and austere” – are being considered for air fields in Alabama, Arizona and California that are no longer in regular use by the Navy.
According to the internal draft memo obtained by TIME, the centers will be designed to last between six months and a year. They would be built at Navy Outlying Field Wolf in Orange Beach, Alabama, and nearby Navy Outlying Field Silverhill in Silverhill, Alabama, as well as at Naval Weapons Station Concord, near San Francisco, and Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (Arizona), is also being considered, according to the memo.
The memo said that the Navy would spend about $233 million to construct and operate each facility for 25,000 people for a six-month time period.
Here is a look at the two bases:
Goodfellow Air Force Base
- Goodfellow AFB is located in San Angelo, Texas, in Tom Green County in central Texas, four hours northwest of San Antonio.
- It is the home of the 17th Training Wing.
- Air Education and Training Command was established and activated there in January 1942, making it the second oldest major command in the Air Force.
- Goodfellow hosts cryptologic and intelligence training for all branches of the military.
- In addition, military firefighters are trained at Goodfellow as part of the 312th Training Squadron.
- The 217th Training Squadron of the Texas Air National Guard is hosted at the base, as is the Army’s 344th military Intelligence Batallion.
- The base sits on 1,235 acres. It has a population of about 5,500, half of whom are students.
- Fort Bliss is a United States Army post that takes in land in both New Mexico and Texas.
- It has an area of about 1,700 square miles, and is the largest installation in the United States Army Forces Command.
- Fort Bliss has the largest contiguous tract (1,500 square miles) of restricted airspace in the Continental United States.
- The base is used for missile and artillery training and testing.
- Fort Bliss is home to the 1st Armored Division, and is supported by the 15th Sustainment Brigade. The installation is also home to the 32nd Army Air & Missile Defense Command, the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the 212th Fires Brigade and the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade.
- The post is also the headquarters for the El Paso Intelligence Center, a federal tactical operational intelligence center.
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