March 25 (UPI) — The Pentagon on Wednesday approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to house migrant children at a pair of military bases amid an influx in border arrivals.
Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said HHS will be granted immediate access to prepare to house children at a vacant dormitory at Joint Base San Antonio and construct a temporary housing facility on an area of land at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas.
“This support will be on a fully reimbursable basis and will not negatively affect military training, operations, readiness or other military requirements, including National Guard and Reserve readiness,” Kirby said. “HHS will maintain custody and responsibility for the well-being and support for these children at all times on the installation.”
Kirby announced on Tuesday the Pentagon had received the request from HHS after representatives conducted a site survey of Joint Base San Antonio last week.
He added further surveys were expected at Camp Pendleton in California and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
The request for additional space to house migrant children comes as the Biden administration has struggled to process children arriving at the border with a report over the weekend stating that many are being held in custody at Customs and Border Protection facilities for an average of 136 hours, exceeding the 72-hour limit established by U.S. law.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with leading the White House’s efforts to meet with the leaders of Mexico and the northern triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to stem migrant arrivals.