As detention centers continue to fill with asylum seekers and migrants, U.S. immigration officials are struggling to keep up with finding space to house them, The New York Times reports. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, faced with federal pressure to keep up custody and detention policies, are looking towards renting spaces in prisons and expediting both the deportation of detainees and of the release of migrants.
One proposal considered by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year suggested relocating migrant children to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the prison facility with dormitory space that has been used previously to temporarily house asylum seekers. But officials are not keen on the idea, likely because it implies housing children next to alleged terrorists, said one official who has seen the initiative documents.
Tom Crosson, a spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said on Monday that the administration does not have “immediate” plans to use Guantánamo Bay to house migrant children. But, Crosson said, the Defense Department is looking for military bases to be used as temporary centers for asylum seekers.
In recent months, the administration has concentrated on the Southwest border, where a rise in the number of asylum-seeking families has overburdened short-term holding centers. But officials are also struggling to keep up with the next step of the process—long-term holding spaces are also succumbing to overpopulation.
While the average population of migrants in detention centers in the final year under the Obama administration was 34,376, under Trump, ICE currently houses 50,223, one of the highest recorded numbers. Congress has mandated a limit of 45,274.