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Pentagon receives request to provide space for migrant children at military bases

Harris to lead efforts to stem migration
Harris to lead efforts to stem migration 02:25

The Pentagon has received a request to provide space at military installations to house the influx of migrant children on the southern border. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier Tuesday signed an order directing Northern Command to support housing migrant children, and Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the Pentagon is reviewing this request.

Kirby told reporters Tuesday the Department of Defense has received a request from the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for housing minors, for a vacant dorm at Joint Base San Antonio and land at Fort Bliss, located near El Paso, Texas. 

A third base, Peterson AFB in Colorado, is now being surveyed to determine if it is suitable for housing unaccompanied minors. A fourth one, Fort Lee in Virginia, was also surveyed but it was found to be unsuitable because of mold.  

Representatives from HHS conducted a site survey of Joint Base San Antonio last week. 

The Department of Health and Human Services  has been scrambling in recent weeks to find child-appropriate shelters for the soaring number of migrant children crossing the southern border.

Site surveys are also expected at Camp Pendleton in California, and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Over the past weekend, approximately 5,000 unaccompanied minors were stranded in short term facilities that are not meant to hold children. 

U.S. law states the children must be transferred from Custom and Border Protection Facilities to HHS shelters within 72 hours of apprehension.

Previous administrations have requested help from the Pentagon to tackle the influx of migrants. 

Between 2012 and 2017, nearly 16,000 unaccompanied children were housed on five military bases, according to the Congressional Research Service. Under the Trump administration, Secretary of Defense James Mattis approved facilities to house up to 20,000 migrant children.

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