WASHINGTON — Faced with an unrelenting stream of children crossing the southern U.S. border, the Obama administration wants to greatly expand the number of unaccompanied immigrant minors housed at domestic military bases and extend the time they can stay there.
The Department of Health and Human Services has asked the Defense Department for the authority to house another 5,000 children on bases, in addition to the roughly 3,000 or already being sheltered at three bases, including Fort Sill, according to Capitol Hill sources.
It was not clear Thursday evening whether Fort Sill would gain more children — or even continue housing children past October when the first authority expires.
The U.S. Army post — which conducts artillery training — currently has nearly 1,200 children, mostly teenagers.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell seemed to indicate Thursday afternoon that Fort Sill’s involvement would continue.
At a Senate hearing, she was asked specifically about Fort Sill. After first explaining that her department would rather have new permanent facilities than continue using temporary ones, she said, “Right now, with the Department of Defense, we had 120 days. We’ve renewed that for additional days.”
More on the children being housed at Fort Sill:
Critics of housing children at military bases warned last month that it wouldn’t end after 120 days. The administration now is seeking space on bases through January.