HHS sends request to Pentagon to house migrant children at military bases

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March 23 (UPI) -- The Pentagon has received a request from the Department of Health and Human Services for space at military bases to temporarily house migrant children.

The request sought a vacant dorm at Joint Base San Antonio and land at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, to house migrant children amid an influx of migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border, Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said during a press conference Tuesday.

"We'll analyze it and evaluate it, just like we would any other request for assistance," said Kirby, adding that the department had "just received this request" and that he did not know how many children were requested to be housed.

Kirby also noted that HHS representatives conducted a site survey of Joint Base San Antonio last week.

Further surveys are expected for Camp Pendleton in California and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

The request comes as more than 5,000 unaccompanied children are being held in Customs and Border Protection facilities, while in custody for an average of 136 hours, nearly twice the 72-hour limit outlined by U.S. law.

The Biden administration has declined to refer to the influx in migrant arrivals as a "crisis" and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the clear message to immigrants is that the border is closed.

Roberta Jacobson, special assistant to President Joe Biden and coordinator for the southwest border, traveled to Mexico on Monday to "develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration."

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