In seeking to deal with the increased number of unaccompanied migrant children resulting from its zero-tolerance immigration policy, the Trump administration has taken a cue from former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and is looking to build tent cities in Texas to house the children.
The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans.
HHS officials confirmed that they’re looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for potential use as temporary shelters.
The need for more beds is driven by the administration’s policy of splitting families who cross the border illegally – prosecuting parents and sending children to government care.
The number of children held in U.S. custody has risen 20 percent under Trump’s policy.
“Detaining children for immigration purposes is never in their best interest and the prospect of detaining kids in tent cities is horrifying,” said Clara Long, U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch. “US authorities should focus on keeping families together, ensuring due process in asylum adjudications and protecting the rights of children."