Skip to main content

For undocumented children pouring over the border, no more military housing

By Kevin Bohn, CNN
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Unaccompanied minors at Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme in California exercise while they're being held at the facility.
Unaccompanied minors at Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme in California exercise while they're being held at the facility.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Around 7,700 children have been sent to military bases in Texas, Oklahoma and California
  • Department of Health and Human Services said it's arranging other types of housing
  • HHS says if there's another surge of children crossing border, bases might be used again

Washington (CNN) -- The federal government will no longer be housing unaccompanied minors from Central America at three military facilities.

The Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for their care after they are taken into custody, announced the move on Monday, saying it has been able to find other types of locations for the some of tens of thousands of the children who have come from Central America.

"We are able to take this step because we have proactively expanded capacity to care for children in standard shelters, which are significantly less costly facilities. At the same time, we have seen a decrease in the number of children crossing the Southwest border," Ken Wolfe, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement.

The temporary shelters were set up with the cooperation of the Defense Department in May and early June as the nation saw a major spike in the numbers of these children -- mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras -- crossing into the United States through Mexico.

The three facilities were at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma and Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme in California.

Officials said they expect the children at Fort Sill to be moved by Friday and that the other two facilities to end operations in the next two to eight weeks.

HHS said about 7,700 children were placed at the three bases.

It is possible, HHS said, it would reopen the three military facilities if there is another surge.

Internal Homeland Security Department figures showed more than 62,000 children had illegally come into the United States as of the end of last week during the past 10 months, according to a U.S. official.

HHS' Administration for Children and Families is given responsibility for these kids after they are detained at the border. Right now, HHS said it will house the children both in standard as well as special surge facilities.

The ultimate aim is to release the kids to sponsors -- often times family members if they have some living in the United States -- while their cases make it through the immigration system. That can take several years.

Daniel's journey: How thousands of children are creating a crisis in America

CNN's Evan Perez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:51 PM EDT, Sat September 6, 2014
Here's a look at what you need to know about immigration in the U.S.
updated 12:11 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Explore the journey out of the shadows led by undocumented immigrant and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas in CNN Films' "Documented."
updated 3:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
A new survey about preferences and trends in Mexico concludes that one out of every three Mexicans would migrate to the United States if given the opportunity.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Mon September 8, 2014
President Barack Obama says he won't act on immigration reform until after the November congressional elections.
updated 9:08 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
A day late and a compromise short.
It is a powerful need: to see the man who shaped your life from afar for almost 13 years. For 14-year-old Jesús and his mother, it was enough to propel them on a dangerous and illegal journey. They made it to America. But what happens next?
updated 7:20 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's decision to send up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the southern border is the latest move in a controversy. Here are the questions we wanted to know about Perry's plan
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border kids crisis.
updated 9:46 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
In places such as Murrieta, California, and Oracle, Arizona, the message is clear: Thousands of immigrant children fleeing Central America are unwelcome in Small Town U.S.A.
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
Photographers capture all sides of the story as the crisis on the border continues.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
John King, Manu Raju and Molly Ball discuss the Maryland governor's mixed message on housing undocumented migrants.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
The Central Americans crossing the U.S. border in massive waves have been described as immigrants or refugees.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
It was a good idea back in 2008, in the final days of the Bush administration.
updated 5:42 PM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
An explainer on how thousands of children are creating a crisis in America.
updated 2:33 PM EDT, Fri June 6, 2014
The immigration debate in the United States should be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.
updated 9:39 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to get beyond the question of who's to blame for the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.
updated 12:03 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas announced his status as an undocumented immigrant in June 2011.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Sat June 28, 2014
David Martinez grew up thinking he was just an average American kid. Turns out, he was wrong.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Rosa Flores shares her family's immigration story.
updated 12:17 PM EDT, Sat June 21, 2014
Dozens of mothers and children file through a Tucson bus station daily. Everything is up in the air. The only thing they know for sure is where they're going next.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Polo Sandoval takes a look at an undocumented teen, his journey to the US, and the nun that inspired him.
ADVERTISEMENT