HHS asks Pentagon for use of third base to house migrant children

HHS asks Pentagon for use of third base to house migrant children
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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has asked the Pentagon to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children at another military base, this one in California, the Defense Department’s top spokesman confirmed Thursday.

“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 at the Pentagon.

“We are moving forward with analyzing that request for assistance right now.”


Camp Roberts, an Army base located roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is readying to house an expected 1,500 children, according to local outlet the Paso Robles Daily News.

California HHS is reportedly working with the base to hold minors between the ages of 4 to 18 years old for four to six weeks, but that timeline could be extended.

The Pentagon last week agreed to temporarily house migrant children at Joint Base San Antonio in Lackland, Texas, and at Fort Bliss outside El Paso, as unaccompanied minors have increased in number at the U.S.–Mexico border in recent months.

The Biden administration has decided to not deport the minors, who have strained HHS-run shelters — facilities where the children are housed before they can be released to parents or other sponsors in the United States.

Several other military installations have also been considered for the job, including Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and Fort Lee, Va., with the latter found unsuitable for children.

Kirby said he knew of no other potential requests for assistance that Defense officials “are waiting for or that we anticipate,” from HHS, though they are in constant communication with department should the need arise. 

The Biden administration is turning away many of the thousands of migrants who have made the dangerous journey from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But the U.S. under President BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE is still accepting unaccompanied minors, who have arrived in record numbers.

The U.S. had custody of at least 15,000 migrant children as of late last week.