Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about the Trump administration’s plans to split up families who illegally cross the border into the United States from Mexico. Now, the Washington Post is reporting that the administration is considering housing the migrant children separated from their parents on military bases.
According to Defense Department communications that the Post obtained, representatives from the Health and Human Services Department are planning to inspect four military sites in Texas and Arkansas to determine if they’re appropriate for housing children. An HHS official confirmed the visits to the Post, but the email communication indicated that the decision to house children on bases had not yet been made.
The HHS official told the Post that its foster-care facilities are at 91 percent capacity and that the increased number of immigrant children placed in government care due to the administration’s plans to separate them from their parents would likely put a strain on those facilities.
It’s still unclear how aggressive the administration plans to be, and how many children might be separated from their parents. The administration says it is planning to ramp up the practice in an effort to deter families from arriving at the border in the first place.
“If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Jeff Sessions said in a speech defending the policy. “It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”
As things stand now, according to the Post, children under HHS care spend on average 45 days in government custody before being released to sponsors or, more often, to parents or other relatives in the U.S.
According to Reuters, in 2014, when the child migration numbers were at a high, the Obama administration used bases in Oklahoma, Texas, and California to house thousands of unaccompanied children for several months.