Bliss and Goodfellow: Which military bases will build camps to hold immigrants? 

June 25, 2018
  • By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The Pentagon announced on Monday that two bases in Texas will be building temporary housing for immigrants illegally crossing the country’s southern border.

Goodfellow Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Bliss were chosen by the Department of Defense to house immigrants. According to the Pentagon, one base will house unaccompanied children while the other will host families.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told The Associated Press Sunday that the Pentagon is preparing to build temporary housing for migrants at two U.S. military bases. Mattis said that plans for the housing were already in the works, but he would not name which two bases would be hosting temporary camps for immigrants.

The Pentagon said last week that officials at HHS requested housing for children at military installations “for occupancy as early as July through December 31, 2018.” A spokesman for the DOD said the department would make available space on military bases for as many as 20,000 migrant children.

The call for housing comes amid a backlash over the Trump Administration policy of “zero tolerance” for those coming into the country illegally. Under the zero-tolerance policy, any adult “believed to have committed any crime, including illegal entry,” is referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. Any child accompanying an adult entering the country illegally would be sent to a detention center, separated from the parent or guardian who would be sent to jail. 

Video footage of separated children along with an audiotape of children crying for their parents sparked outrage over the policy.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order that said that from that point on, migrant families would be housed together, and reiterated the call for military bases to find space for facilities to house families.

Trump’s executive order called for the Department of Defense to “take all legally available measures” to provide the Department of Homeland Security with “any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families,” according to The Washington Post.

The Pentagon was also tasked with the construction of facilities “if necessary and consistent with law.”

HHS, the department that takes custody of “unattended” immigrant children, has toured facilities on four military bases to assess whether they would meet their needs for housing children. The bases are Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, and Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Fort Bliss in Texas.

Time magazine is reporting that the U.S. Navy is ready to construct detention centers that would house more than 100,000 immigrants.

The centers – said to be tent cities and described as “temporary and austere” – are being considered for air fields in Alabama, Arizona and California that are no longer in regular use by the Navy. 

According to the internal draft memo obtained by TIME, the centers will be designed to last between six months and a year. They would be built at Navy Outlying Field Wolf in Orange Beach, Alabama, and nearby Navy Outlying Field Silverhill in Silverhill, Alabama, as well as at Naval Weapons Station Concord, near San Francisco, and Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (Arizona), is also being considered, according to the memo.

The memo said that the Navy would spend about $233 million to construct and operate each facility for 25,000 people for a six-month time period. 

Here is a look at the two bases:

Goodfellow Air Force Base

Fort Bliss
 

A transport officer, right, helps immigrants Dilma Araceley Riveria Hernandez, and her son, Anderson Alvarado, 2, get off the bus after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Sunday, June 24, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)