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Arizona attorney weighs in on holding immigrant children on military bases

(AP Photo/Hans-Maximo Musielik, File)


PHOENIX — The Trump administration has said it was considering using military bases to house children who were detained or separated from their parents at the border.

It wouldn’t be the first time it’s done: Military bases were used at the height of the unaccompanied minors crisis in the summer of 2014.

In Arizona, a warehouse was set up to handle the surge. But there were concerns about the living conditions.

“If the military facilities we’re talking about now are anything similar to that, then no, they’re entirely inadequate,” said Billy Peard, a Tucson-based attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

The Department of Health and Human Services planned to visit four military bases in Texas and Arkansas this month to see if they’re suitable to shelter children, according to the Associated Press.

The bases would be used for minors who crossed the border without a parent or guardian. They would also house children who were separated from their parents who are facing prosecution after crossing the border illegally.

Peard said he questions why the Trump administration now wants to use military bases to hold immigrant children.

“That seems to be somewhat suspect, because the overall number of apprehensions at the Southwest border is down considerably from 2014, and down by any conceivable statistic or measure over the course of the past five years,” he said.

A one-year analysis by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows apprehensions of families and unaccompanied minors at the Southwest border dropped by about 15 percent. However, they nearly doubled in the first four months of this year.

In April alone, more than 9,600 families and about 4,300 unaccompanied minors were detained. That’s up from about 1,100 families and nearly 1,000 unaccompanied minors last April.