Published: Sat, June 23, 2018

US Military May House Migrant Children As Trump Policy Beset By Confusion

US Military May House Migrant Children As Trump Policy Beset By Confusion

"The Department of Defense has been asked whether it can house 20,000 unaccompanied children between now and the end of the year".

Announced in April, the policy has led to an estimated 2,000 children being separated from their adult guardians and placed in detention centers while the adults await prosecution for illegally crossing the border.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday said that President Trump's administration "never really intended" to separate migrant families who cross the border without documentation.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island and Rep. Adam Smith, D-California, the leading members of the armed services committees, wrote a letter to Mattis on Wednesday requesting assurances that members of Congress would have access to any migrant facility established on a military base.

The children who would be housed on military bases are those who cross the border illegally by themselves, as opposed to those accompanied by adults.

The Justice Department (directed by the White House) asked a district judge to modify a 1997 settlement that has been interpreted as setting the 20-day limit on detaining children who entered the country illegally, regardless of whether they entered with a parent.

The secretary, pressed on the sensitivities of the Trump administration separating children from their parents, said reporters would need to ask "the people responsible for it".

They will be appointed as special assistant United States attorneys and will focus on prosecuting misdemeanor improper entry and felony illegal reentry cases, Davis said.

The Pentagon has told legislators that the Department of Health and Human Services has inquired about housing up to 20,000 children separtated from their immigrant parents on military bases as early as July, according to The Washington Post.

Mattis spoke just before President Trump signed an executive order meant to end family separations at the USA southern border, attempting to staunch the controversy over the administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.

The order also directs the Justice Department to fight in court to permanently remove the threat of separation. Since April, the "zero tolerance" policy enacted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has forced prosecutors to indict all of them.

"Under current law and legal rulings, it is not possible for the USA government to detain families together during the pendency of their immigration proceedings".

The administration also has sought a permanent legislative fix on the issue, but the US House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill favored by conservatives that would have halted the practice of splitting up families and addressed a range of other immigration issues. They would fund the wall Trump has proposed along the border with Mexico and reduce legal migration.

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