The Hill: Feds Eye Military Housing as Fix for ‘Catch and Release’

The Associated Press

Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are visiting four military bases to see if they can be used to house young migrants while their migrant parents’ deportation and asylum cases are processed, according to The Hill.

The military housing would help officials end the “catch and release” policy which allows waves of migrants with children into the United States whenever they overwhelm underfunded border and courtroom resources. The Hill reported:

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials are due to visit land parcels on four separate military installations to determine whether they are suitable to house undocumented minors, according to an internal Department of Defense email reviewed by The Hill.

Three of the bases are in Texas: Fort Bliss, a U.S. Army base near El Paso; Dyess Air Force Base, near Abilene; and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo. Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas will also be reviewed.

HHS officials will only be making a preliminary assessment of the bases and no decisions on whether to go ahead with the plan have been made, according to the email.

Under current law, HHS is responsible for housing children and youths who are detained by DHS when they cross the border.

Those number of children and youth are expected to increase because DHS and Justice Department officials are trying to deter migrants from bringing children to help them get through the Flores “catch and release” loophole. The loophole was created by the 1997 Flores legal settlement which forces DHS officials to release migrants with children after 20 days. If HHS officials can house additional children in Pentagon facilities, their parents can be kept in DHS detention until they are carefully prosecuted and deported, amid opposition from many Democrats, from cheap-labor Republicans, progressive judges and open-borders legal advocates.


Migrants from El Salvador who entered the country illegally walk through a bus after they were released from a family detention center in San Antonio, Texas, in 2015.

In addition, some children and youths cross the borders without family members. They are sometimes called “Unaccompanied Alien Children,” even though they are often being ferried north to parents illegally living in the United States. Officials would like to house those youths without releasing them in the United States until their legal claims are processed.

The search for extra housing comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal migrants and fraudulent asylum claims.

The search also comes after President Donald Trump slammed Nielsen at a cabinet meeting for failing to stop the northward flow of migrants, including the 1,500 people in the open-border “caravan” group from Honduras. On May 9, the Washington Post reports:

Trump lashed out at his Cabinet, and Nielsen in particular, when told that the number of people arrested for illegally crossing the Mexico border topped 50,000 for the second consecutive month. The blowup lasted more than 30 minutes, according to a person with knowledge of what transpired, as Trump’s face reddened and he raised his voice, saying Nielsen needed to “close down” the border. [Emphasis added]

“Why don’t you have solutions? How is this still happening?” he said, adding later, “We need to shut it down. We’re closed.” [Emphasis added]

In the March 2018 omnibus, GOP leaders in Congress did not include significant extra funding for the detention of adult migrants or the so-called “UACs.”

In 2014, former President Barack Obama used military housing to help regain control of the border after a wave of migrants caused a massive shift in public opinion against his pro-migration policies. According to a June 2014 report by Reuters:

Senior administration officials, who asked not to be identified, told reporters that an Army base at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, will initially hold 600 “unaccompanied minors” and eventually will be able to accommodate up to 1,200.

In recent weeks, the Obama administration has opened similar emergency shelters at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and Naval Base Ventura County in Southern California.

The moves come amid a tidal wave of children trying to slip into the United States, largely from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, often to join a parent already here.

Obama’s support for easy migration helped elect Donald Trump — but also leaves Trump with a huge migration problem which few Democrats in Congress want to fix.


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