The Trump administration is considering sheltering unaccompanied immigrant children apprehended along the southwest border at Fort Benning, says the Pentagon and U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
Officials from DOD and HHS will reportedly be touring Fort Benning on Wednesday, CBS News reported,
While the number of children that could be housed there and for how long is not currently known, Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan “approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services in April for the Pentagon to find space for up to 5,000 at military bases,” multiple media outlets reports.
Reached in Washington D.C., Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Georgia Congressman whose district includes Fort Benning, said he had not heard of the plans and had not seen the media reports. Asked if he were in favor of housing immigrant children on Fort Benning, Bishop said initially he would be in favor of it.
“It would be the Christian thing to do,” said Bishop.
Susan Krysak with Indivisible Paz Amigos, a group that works to find justice for those who migrate here from other countries, says she does not agree that this is the Christian thing to do. Krysak says the right thing to do would be to embrace them with love not a shelter on post.
“Those are God’s children and they are coming from an area of poverty and of crime because they don’t want to be in a cartel or to be killed, so they try to escape. We need to embrace them and love them and to be a city,Columbus Georgia needs to be a city of love,“ Krysak said.
Krysak has been helping immigrants who have been released from Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga for the past five years. She says when she first picks up the men, they are full of joy to be free because of the poor treatment they receive in the detention center and she says she wouldn’t want these migrant children to go through the same thing.
“It was pretty heartbreaking to read that and I think I thought how can we lock up children because of where they’re from,” Krysak said.
“They may write this as a shelter, they’re sheltering them, this is a prison. If you’re locked in and you can not come out then that’s a prison to them. If our own children, instead of going to the beach or going and having fun this summer or locked away parents here would not like that.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point says the fact that the nation is even having this conversation, highlights the abject failure of House Democrats to come to the table to fix our broken immigration system.
“This is the wrong approach,” Ferguson said. “We must secure our border and fix our broken immigration system. Housing people who are here illegally at a DOD facility is not in line with our troops’ mission and could even hinder our military’s readiness. Let’s fix our immigration system now.”
Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and Fort Sill in Oklahoma are also potential sites for immigrant housing, according to the Pentagon.
Chidren under the age of 17 who are taken into custody are placed in the care of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. Once they have been processed, children are able to be released to a “sponsor” in the United States. These sponsors are “family members in the United States,” and the children stay with them as they “await immigration hearings,” according to the HHS.
Just an hour from Columbus is Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Ga., an immigrant detention center with more than 1,000 detainees.