Pentagon approves request to find housing for 5,000 migrant children

The Department of Defense (DOD) has approved a government request to find housing for as many as 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children. 

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Hill on Wednesday that acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE approved a March request from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the DOD to identify locations for housing to last through September. He added that the HHS request did not ask that the Pentagon actually oversee the housing of the children.

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Reuters was the first to report the news that the Pentagon had accepted the HHS request.

Migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border have been gradually rising for several months as Central American families make the journey north. 

The military was asked to house up to 20,000 migrants last year, though the allocated space was never used, according to Reuters. 

The news comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE signals that he intends to take a more hard-line approach to immigration, floating measures to curtail migrants’ paths to asylum and overseeing a shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security’s upper echelons. He did maintain, however, that he is not seeking to bring back a policy of separating children from their parents at the border if they illegally entered the U.S. 

The president has blamed Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries for failing to adequately stem the flow of migrants to the U.S., announcing he was cutting aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and threatening to apply automobile tariffs on Mexico and perhaps even close the border.

Trump also said Wednesday he will “have to call up more military” to patrol the border to deal with the rise of illegal crossings. There are currently roughly 6,000 active duty and National Guard troops manning the border.