The U.S. military has been asked to prepare to house up to 20,000 immigrant children, officials said on Thursday.
The request by the Department of Health and Human Services aims to provide temporary beds for up to 20,000 undocumented children at U.S military bases. That bed space would be needed beginning in July and running through the end of the year.
Officials tell NPR that four bases are expected to provide space, including the Army’s Fort Bliss base in El Paso, Texas. It’s uncertain if there would be enough barracks space, so officials say that tents likely would have to be put up.
It’s unclear whether the space could be used for the family detention ordered this week by the Trump administration; the Department of Health and Human Services only handles detained children — separated from their parents or unaccompanied — while the adults are held by the Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is being asked to provide 21 attorneys — most of them military officers — to help the Department of Justice to prosecute undocumented immigrant cases in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
President Trump’s administration has been under fire for separating children from their parents who crossed the border illegally.
However, on Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order stating that families should be kept together in detention during any immigration hearings.
On Wednesday, First Lady Melania Trump made an unannounced visit with detained children in McAllen, Texas. Out of earshot, she quietly urged officials to reunite children with their parents.
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