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Pentagon approves third military base to house unaccompanied migrant kids

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Asylum seeking unaccompanied minors are transported in a US Border Patrol vehicle after they crossed the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in Penitas, Texas, March 9, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

The Pentagon has approved the use of a military base in California to house migrant children traveling alone, as the US government struggles to deal with a historic rise in migrants crossing the border into the United States.

Defense officials have said that Camp Roberts, located about two hours northwest of Santa Barbara, could temporarily house the unaccompanied migrant kids, the third military base in the US being used for this purpose after Fort Bliss and Joint Base San Antonio in Texas.

“On April 2, the Department of Defense approved a request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for facilities and land to temporarily house unaccompanied children at Camp Roberts, California,” a defense official confirmed to FOX News.

“This support is being provided on a fully-reimbursable basis,” the official said. “DoD only provides this kind of support where it has no impact on military readiness and its ability to conduct its primary missions.”

The development comes as the administration of President Joe Biden is trying to address a dramatic spike in migrant numbers, while blaming the surge on the previous administration’s dismantling of legal pathways to asylum.

Critics, however, fault the Biden administration for unravelling strict border protections put in place by former president Donald Trump, including measures that kept migrants in Mexico while they waited for their cases to be processed.

US border agents encountered more than 9,000 children without a parent in February, the highest figure for a month since May 2019, when more than 11,000 minors came to the border alone.

Children arriving at the border are being kept at Border Patrol custody for longer than three days on average, before HHS can house the minors at other facilities until they can be relocated with family or a sponsor in the US.

Unlike adults in many situations, all unaccompanied migrant children are allowed to stay in the US.

This has prompted some parents either to send their children on the journey to America alone or accompany them to the border and send them the rest of the way alone.

Most children end up in detention facilities that are currently way beyond capacity and in poor conditions.

Shocking images circulated on social media last month, showing packed border holding cells, where refugee children rested on side-by-side floor mats in a detention facility in Texas.

“Regardless of the politics, what’s happening on our southern border is a humanitarian crisis. Unaccompanied minors are streaming over the borders looking for sanctuary and a new and better way of life,” political analyst Myles Hoenig, a former Green Party candidate for Congress, told Press TV.

“Very few in this country argue for open borders, but they are here and should not be turned away. The US has the resources to care for them and with so many military bases scattered throughout the Southwest, there’s plenty of room to house them in decent facilities,” he added.

Using temporary facilities such as convention centers and military bases is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to speed up the transfer of children out of Border Patrol custody, but this has made the situation even worse.

The Biden administration has come under fire from human rights advocates for its inhumane treatment of unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America as thousands are being kept in jail-like facilities — the same “cages” that drew condemnation in 2019 under President Trump.

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