In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance policy for criminal illegal entry” in response to an increase in border crossings. A memo sent to federal prosecutors along the southwest border calls for the criminal prosecution of individuals who cross the border, which would result in jail time. In addition, to deter border crossings, the administration has authorized the separation of children from their parents. In an NPR interview earlier this week, Chief of Staff John Kelly said that the “children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever.”
That “whatever” may be military bases. According to several new sources, representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have visited facilities in Arkansas and Texas. Children separated from their parents would be treated as “unaccompanied minors,” falling under the care of HHS’ Office of Refugee and Resettlement. In 2014, unaccompanied minors were housed in military bases in Oklahoma, Texas, and California. Administration officials indicated they can house up to 10,571 children in its network of foster care facilities.
According to The Washington Post, children held by HHS can spend an average of 45 days under government care before being placed with “a sponsor,” either a parent or other adult relative living in the United States. In recent testimony, HHS confirmed that they had lost track of nearly 1,500 children who were placed with a sponsor.
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