The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the Department of Defense (DOD) to house more unaccompanied children who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in the midst of an influx in illegal immigration, said a spokesperson for the Pentagon.
“We have received a request for assistance from HHS for the potential use of Camp Roberts in California to house unaccompanied minors,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. “We are moving forward with analyzing that request for assistance right now.”
Camp Roberts is a California Army National Guard base in northern San Luis Obispo County.
Kirby did not say how many children would be potentially housed on the base.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma, for the Guard, told the Sacramento Bee newspaper that HHS wants to use “an area of land” on the base that would “temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children.” It’s not clear if a new facility will be constructed on the base for the children.
The Epoch Times has contacted the California National Guard for comment.
An uptick in the number of people crossing the border, especially children traveling alone and families, has filled up federal holding facilities. The U.S. has been releasing families with children 6 and under and expelling families with older children under pandemic-related powers that deny an opportunity to seek asylum.
Currently, there are thousands of unaccompanied children being held by the federal government after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks. Last month, Border Patrol apprehended more than 150,000 illegal border crossers, which is 50,000 more than February’s figures, according to former CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.
Morgan, who said he received the numbers from internal sources in the midst of a media blackout, said that another 30,000 illegal immigrants evaded capture.
The issue has turned into a political flashpoint for the Biden administration, with Republicans and former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials saying the surge of illegal immigration was triggered by what they described as lax White House immigration policies. President Joe Biden in January took executive action to rescind several asylum and immigration rules issued by former President Donald Trump and told reporters last week that Trump’s policies were inhumane and described the current surge as seasonal.
Republicans, however, said that Biden’s executive orders caused it. Some Democrats in Congress have also called on Biden to re-implement some of Trump’s policies. Among them, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) has been especially vocal and has released leaked photos from inside an overflow facility in Donna, Texas.
The Pentagon last week said it agreed to temporarily house unaccompanied children at Joint Base San Antonio in Lackland, Texas, and in Fort Bliss, Texas.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is moving another 500 unaccompanied children to an emergency holding facility as part of efforts to reduce overcrowding.
The children are scheduled to arrive at the National Association of Christian Churches site in Houston, Texas, which has been transformed into an Emergency Intake Site used by HHS.
Janita Kan and AP contributed to this report.