The Pentagon has agreed to a request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to build temporary tent housing for up to 7,500 adult migrants, The Washington Post reports. Children are not currently expected to be housed in the spaces.
According to The Post, Major Chris Miller, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, released a statement late Wednesday (May 22) explaining that the migrants will be “processed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and turned over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).” Miller also emphasized that “military personnel will not operate the [temporary] facilities and will only erect the tents,” he said. “Operating the facilities remains the responsibility of DHS.”
Pentagon officials plan to build the tents along the “Tucson and Yuma sectors in Arizona and near the Tornillo, Donna, Laredo and Del Rio ports of entry in Texas,” according to The Post. The scope and cost of the project will reportedly be determined in the next couple of weeks, along with a timeline for completion.
The request for temporary housing is linked to an increase in the number of migrants apprehended by agents at the southern border. The Post reports:
The flow of migrants over the southwestern border with Mexico has been spiking, straining an already stretched system for processing and housing those who are apprehended. The influx has led to what officials are describing as an emergency due to the overwhelming number of people in custody.
CBP reports that it detained 109,144 migrants in April 2019 alone. That is the largest number of people to attempt to cross the southern border in a single month since 2007.