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Washington (AFP) – Trump administration officials plan to visit four US military installations to see if they could be used to house migrant children, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The move comes after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week warned that people who enter the United States unlawfully with children will have them taken away.
Citing an email notification to the Pentagon from the Department of Health and Human Services, which provides minors with foster care, the Post said officials will inspect four bases in Arkansas and Texas to see if they would be suitable for child shelters.
Neither the Pentagon nor HHS immediately responded to requests for comment.
According to the Post, unaccompanied minors under 18 who arrive at the border would be housed on the bases, along with children who have been separated from their parents.
The email seen by the Post said the site visits are preliminary, and that no decisions have yet been made.
During a border visit to Arizona and California last week, Sessions warned that anyone attempting to bring a child into the US would be prosecuted and would likely be separated from the minor.
“If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that,” Sessions said.
According to an HHS official who spoke to the Post, the agency’s facilities for children are at 91 percent capacity. The crackdown by President Donald Trump’s administration could see its centers overflow.
The Democratic National Committee has denounced Sessions’s comments and the Trump administration’s immigration policy as an “affront to our values as a nation.”
In July 2014, the US was confronted with a spike in Central American children crossing its border, with an influx of 60,000 minors.
At the peak of the crisis, former president Barack Obama’s administration used bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas to shelter thousands of children, the Post reported.
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