The U.S. military has been asked to get ready to house up to 20,000 immigrant children, officials said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back a widely condemned policy of separating children from their parents were beset by confusion.
While no decision has been made, the Department of Health and Human Services has already assessed three military bases in Texas and would review another in Arkansas, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
She said HHS had asked the Pentagon “to determine its capabilities to provide up to 20,000 temporary beds for unaccompanied alien children” at military installations.” White did not give further details and it was not clear how many of the children who could be sent to the bases are already being detained at other facilities.
Trump and his administration have faced fierce criticism in recent weeks for separating more than 2,300 children from their families in order to prosecute their parents for crossing the border illegally. Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children sparked worldwide anger.
Trump backed down on Wednesday, signing an executive order to keep families together in detention during immigration proceedings.
But it remained unclear late on Thursday how and when those children would be reunited with their parents, and where families would be held while the parents face criminal charges.
It was also not clear if the government would keep prosecuting cases against people caught crossing the border illegally.
WASHINGTON (Reuters),JUNE 22 2018