Pentagon To House Migrants At 2 Military Bases In Texas

The Pentagon will build tent camps at two U.S. military bases to house people who cross the southern border illegally, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday.

The defense chief did not give details about which bases would contain the temporary camps. However, NPR’s Tom Bowman reports that the two military bases are in Texas.

Migrant families who were taken into custody will be housed at Fort Bliss, an Army base outside El Paso, according to Bowman. Unaccompanied migrant children will be housed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, near San Angelo in central Texas.

The Pentagon has been told to prepare for up to 20,000 unaccompanied minors, though it’s unclear whether all will be housed at Goodfellow or more bases might be called upon.

Mattis said the expanded role in immigration enforcement is part of the armed services’ logistics and support mission. As for how the process began, he said other government agencies had asked the Pentagon for help in housing detained migrants.

The news comes one week after President Trump said “The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility.” He added, “Not on my watch.”

Of the military’s plan to build camps, Mattis said, “providing shelter for people without shelter — we consider that to be a logistics function that is quite appropriate.”

The secretary described the plan to reporters on his plane as he traveled to Asia to visit his counterparts in China, South Korea and Japan.

Mattis compared the temporary camps to the military’s response during a humanitarian crisis. “This is something that we can do,” he said. “Again, whether it be refugee boat people from Vietnam, people who’ve been knocked out of their homes by a hurricane — absolutely, it’s appropriate the military provide logistic support however it’s needed.” Read the full story here:

Bill Chappell