The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will visit four military installations in Texas and Arkansas over the next week to assess their suitability for housing unaccompanied children who have illegally crossed the nation’s southern border. The installations — Fort Bliss, Goodfellow AFB and Dyess AFB in Texas, and Little Rock AFB in Arkansas ― would house minors who are apprehended at the border without an adult relative or after law enforcement officials have separated them from their parents, reported the Washington Post. The site visits come as the number of families crossing the border, many from Central America, has sharply increased in recent months.
The federal government has used excess space at military bases at several points since 2014 to handle an influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America. Three installations — Fort Sill, Okla.; Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, Texas; and Naval Base Ventura, Port Hueneme, Calif. — housed a total of 7,700 immigrant children over several months in 2014. In 2016, HHS used facilities at Holloman AFB, N.M., and Fort Bliss to house unaccompanied minors.