The Trump administration has been given approval to house unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. military bases, an anonymous defense official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The Department of Health and Human Services requested permission from the Pentagon to place up to 20,000 minors on military bases starting early next month, The Washington Post reported, an idea that officials have apparently been toying with for months. Officials requested "temporary beds" to be filled through the end of the year.
Unaccompanied minors have been housed in military bases before, the Post reports, like in 2014 when the Obama administration set up temporary centers on three military bases for about 7,000 children. This recent proposal left unclear why HHS is requesting so many beds, which could be located on bases in Texas and Arkansas where agency staffers visited last week. Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed support for the idea, defending it based on the military's past efforts to house refugees and victims of natural disasters.