CBSN

Military bases under consideration for housing unaccompanied migrant children

Health and Human Services officials have visited four military bases, as they search for 20,000 temporary beds for migrant children, the Pentagon confirms.  

According to Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Department of Defense spokesman, the Pentagon received a request from HHS to determine its capabilities to provide up to 20,000 beds for unaccompanied alien children at DoD bases. Davis said Defense Secretary James Mattis has made it clear the Pentagon will assist other federal agencies. 

"While four bases (three in Texas and one in Arkansas) have been visited by HHS for possible housing, it doesn't mean any or all children would be housed there," Davids said in a statement. "HHS and DoD are working closely to determine the requirements and timing for support. Secretary Mattis' guidance has been clear: that the DoD will support our federal partners."

The Pentagon says the request is specifically for unaccompanied minors (UACs), not for children who were separated from their parents at the border. 

It would not be the first time the U.S. government has housed immigrant children temporarily at military bases. Former President Barack Obama did the same thing in 2014, when the unaccompanied minor crisis was at its height. 

— CBS News' Mary Walsh and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report