The Trump administration is exploring holding children caught crossing the border on military bases, signaling the latest effort to move forward with plans to split up families who cross the border illegally, according to a report in The Washington Post.
According to the Defense Department, Pentagon staffers were notified the Department of Health and Human Services will make site visits at four locations in Texas and Arkansas, to ensure the bases will be able to shelter children.
The email, according to the report in the Post, characterized the site visits as a preliminary assessment, stating that “no decisions have been made at this time.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday defended an agency policy that will result in more families being separated at the border, saying similar separations happen in the US “every day.”
Nielsen was testifying Tuesday at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle raised concerns about what happens to immigrant children who end up in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, which — by law — transfers such minors to HHS within two days.
“Our policy is if you break the law, we will prosecute you,” Nielsen said. “You have an option to go to a port of entry and not illegally cross into our country.”
The DHS, HHS and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.