The military would have a very limited role under a Trump administration plan to use bases to separate illegal immigrant children from their parents, Pentagon press secretary Dana White said Thursday.
The proposal under consideration by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would separate families who were detained after crossing the border into the U.S.
The children would be housed on military bases in Texas and Arkansas, said Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis. The bases include Fort Bliss, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, and Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.
“Right now HHS is conducting a site survey. Right now they are in the lead,” White said. “No requests have been made to us, so no decisions have been made.”
If children are detained on the bases, HHS would have full responsibility for feeding them and caring for them, White said.
“They would ultimately have responsibility for these children,” she said.
It’s not the first time the bases have been used in this capacity.
In 2014 Lackland Air Force Base was used to detain immigrant children, and at the time, HHS installed a fence to separate the children from the rest of the base, a defense official said.
In addition, a complex with an 1,800-bed capacity was used in 2016 at Fort Bliss to house unaccompanied minors who immigrated to the U.S. And about 700 immigrant children stayed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico that same year. The minors spent about a month at the facilities.
Tara Copp is a Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press. She was previously Pentagon bureau chief for Sightline Media Group.