According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration might put migrant children in military bases in the U.S. after separating them from their parents. The revelation comes in the form of an email from the Department of Health and Human Services informing the Pentagon that it will soon survey several military sites in Texas and Arkansas for possible use as shelters for young undocumented immigrants.
The Trump administration recently warned that it will split up immigrant families who are caught crossing the border illegally, which is expected to increase in the number of child immigrants detained in the United States. An official from HHS, the agency responsible for providing minors in the country with foster care, told The Post that its existing facilities for housing migrant children are already operating at over 90 percent capacity.
The HHS email in question states that "no decisions have been made at this time" as to whether the plan will actually be implemented, according to The Post. The facilities being considered are the Army’s Fort Bliss, Goodfellow Air Force Base, and Dyess Air Force Base, all of which are in Texas, as well as the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, The Post reports.
Donald Trump has reportedly been angry recently about what he perceives as his administration's lack of progress closing the U.S. border and stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country. The number of immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally from Mexico surged 37 percent between February and March, according to numbers released by the Department of Homeland Security; in April, the number of attempted border crossings was 223 percent higher than one year before.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump, frustrated at the increase in immigration under his watch, berated Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielssn at a meeting on immigration in front of the rest of his cabinet. Nielsen, whose agency oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, reportedly drafted a resignation letter after the meeting, but didn't submit it.
Trump has announced several plans to deal with what he believes is an overly porous border between the United States and Mexico. In April, he authorized the deployment of National Guard troops to the border to assist immigration officials, while he has long promoted the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, that plan has gone nowhere, as Congress has refused to allocate the money needed to build a wall.
If Trump goes ahead with his plan to house migrant children at military bases, he'll be following in the footsteps of President Obama. During the 2014 migrant crisis, the Obama administration sent over 7,000 immigrant children to live at military bases in Oklahoma, Texas, and California over the course of several months, according to The Post.
Separating immigrant children from their parents has caused problems in the past. In many cases, such children are sent to live with foster parents in the United States; however, in a Senate testimony in April, Acting Assistant HHS Secretary Steven Wagner said that the federal government lost track of 1,475 immigrant children after placing them in the care of adult sponsors. In April 2016, the Associated Press reported that over two dozen immigrant children who'd been placed in foster care were later subject to sexual abuse, human trafficking, or other forms of abuse.
Although Trump administration officials hasn't released detailed statistics on the matter, an investigation by The New York Times found that between October 2017 and April 2018, over 700 undocumented children who were brought into the United States illegally were subsequently separated from their parents by immigration officials.