EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AP) — The Trump administration has chosen an Army base and an Air Force base, both in Texas, to house detained migrants swept up in the federal government’s crackdown on illegal immigration, several defense officials said Monday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about a pending announcement that shelter would be provided at Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had said on Sunday that two bases had been selected but he would not identify them. He has said several times recently that the Pentagon is prepared to support whatever help the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services request.
The Pentagon had initially talked about four potential bases, but Mattis indicated the number is now two.
The number of detained migrants who might be held at Bliss and Goodfellow has not been announced, but the Pentagon had said last week that it had been asked to be prepared to shelter as many as 20,000 unaccompanied children.
One official said unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S. border would be sheltered at one of the bases and the other base would house families of migrant detainees. Under the arrangement, the Defense Department would provide the land but the operations would be run by other agencies.
In his remarks on Sunday, Mattis said the Pentagon has a long history of providing housing to civilians in special circumstances, such as Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the war.
“We consider that to be a logistics function that’s quite appropriate” for the department, Mattis said Sunday.