DHS asks Pentagon to help house 12,000 migrants

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that it has received a request from the Department of Homeland Security “to house and care for an alien family population of up to 12,000 people.”

According to the update from a Defense Department spokesman, the Pentagon has been asked to “identify any available facilities that could be used for that purpose,” and if none are available to “identify available DoD land and construct semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people, at three separate locations.”

The request comes days after CNN reported that DHS had plans to ask the Pentagon to approve a proposal for potentially housing more than 7,000 unaccompanied children at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas and 4,000 migrant family members at Fort Bliss, according to an administration official.

The Fort Bliss and Goodfellow proposals would require Defense Secretary Jame Mattis’ sign-off, and each would bring on contractors to build temporary structures.

According to Wednesday’s update, the DHS has also told the Defense Department it prefers the facilities to be built in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California.

“DHS requires the requested capacity to house 2,000 people within 45 days. A timeline will be developed to add additional capacity,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at keeping families together at the border after US immigration policies resulted in thousands of undocumented children being separated from their parents after crossing into the United States.