A Democratic lawmaker said Thursday that he plans to introduce an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would block the Trump administration from using military bases to house children immigrating illegally who have been forcibly separated from their parents.
“It’s heartless and shameful that the Trump administration is ripping families apart and even considering keeping kids who are separated from their parents at the border on U.S. military bases,” Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump company in late-stage talks to sell DC hotel: report Trump Hotel lost more than M during presidency, say documents Biden meets with vulnerable House Democrats with agenda in limbo MORE (D-Va.) said in a statement. “My amendment to the [National Defense Authorization Act] would stop this cruel policy.”
The Hill reported Tuesday on an internal Pentagon email that said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials are set to visit land parcels on four military installations to determine whether they are suitable to house unaccompanied minors or those separated from their families who have crossed the southwest border illegally.
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.
The Trump administration would not be the first to house children immigrating illegally at military bases. The Obama administration did so in 2014 amid a surge in children from Central America coming across the border.
Adult immigrants caught crossing the border illegally are arrested by Department of Homeland Security agents, but unaccompanied minors are turned over to HHS for placement in foster homes or appropriate installations.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would criminally prosecute all illegal border crossings, including by people traveling in family units, potentially increasing the number of children put in HHS’s care.
Connolly’s amendment would apply to children under 18 who do not have legal immigration status in the United States and who have “a parent or guardian who has no lawful immigration status in the United States and who has been forcibly separated from the child because the parent or guardian has been detained by the United States government.”
The House is expected to consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) next week. The House Rules Committee will decide which amendments make it to a floor vote.
Several amendments targeting President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE’s immigration policies were offered when the NDAA was considered by the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month, including ones that would have limited the role of National Guard troops ordered to the U.S.-Mexico border and prevented Department of Defense funds from going to building a border wall. But the amendments failed on party-line votes.