Connolly's amendment would apply to children under 18 who do not have legal immigration status in the United States and who have "a parent or guardian who has no lawful immigration status in the United States and who has been forcibly separated from the child because the parent or guardian has been detained by the United States government".
The Washington Post reports the Little Rock Air Force Base is one of four military installations that may be used as temporary housing for immigrant children who cross the U.S. -Mexico border illegally, according to an email sent to Pentagon staff by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS officials will reportedly visit four bases in Texas and Arkansas to see if they would be good places to house the children.
The email characterized the site visits as a preliminary assessment.
The sources discussed the plan Tuesday on condition of anonymity because it has not been made public or made final. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans are not yet public, the official said HHS now has the bed space to hold 10,571 children in its network of 100 foster-care facilities.
An HHS official told The Washington Post that HHS can now accommodate 10,571 children with bed space, but their facilities are at 91% capacity. The official said DHS has not provided projections for how many additional children to expect. HHS, which is responsible for providing foster care to such minors, is likely looking for additional housing capacity because the Trump administration plans to begin indiscriminately prosecuting anyone who illegally crosses the border.
It was reported Trump's rant nearly prompted a resignation from Nielsen. He has ordered her to "close" the border and cut off the migration flows, which typically increase in spring with seasonal demand for rural labor.
Nielsen, who has led the agency since December, came under attack from Democratic senators days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a "zero tolerance" policy toward people entering the country illegally could lead to more families being split up while parents are prosecuted.
By separating parents and children and filing illegal entry charges against the adults, officials hope to create a deterrent for potential border jumpers. "It's not our fault that somebody does that".
However, it is not the first time military bases will be used to hold immigrant children.
During a surge in children from Central America in 2014, when Barack Obama was president, Health and Human Services temporarily used military bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas to house the kids.
Critics have denounced Trump administration move to separate children from families, claiming it inflicts great trauma on the children.
It's not clear whether the troops could be assigned to the bases where children will be sheltered.
Three of the bases are in Texas: Fort Bliss, a U.S. Army base near El Paso; Dyess Air Force Base, near Abilene; and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo. If the facilities are to be used for such a goal, HHS must assure the Pentagon there will be no impact on the military's readiness or training efforts and must reimburse the Defense Department, the official said.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, said the Defense Department had not yet received a formal request from HHS.
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