US Navy plans ′austere′ migrant tent camps – report | News | DW | 23.06.2018
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US Navy plans 'austere' migrant tent camps – report

The American navy has drawn up plans for detention centers for tens of thousands of immigrants, according to a magazine report. The measures would support President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy.

A copy of a draft memo obtained by Time Magazine showed the US Navy was preparing to build sprawling detention centers on remote bases in Alabama, Arizona and California to escalate efforts to implement President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy against people illegally crossing the southern border.

The navy plans to build "temporary and austere" tent cities to house some 25,000 migrants in Alabama; 47,000 people in San Francisco; and another 47,000 at a facility in southern California.

Read more: Melania Trump makes surprise trip to Texas shelter for migrant children

The internal US Navy document indicates it would cost at least $233 million (€199 million) to run a facility for 25,000 migrants over half a year.

Captain Greg Hicks, US Navy's chief spokesman, told Time it would be "inappropriate to discuss internal deliberative planning documents."

But Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, admitted the Department of Defense (DoD) "was conducting prudent planning and is looking nationwide at DoD installations should DHS (Department of Homeland Security) ask for assistance in housing adult illegal immigrants."

Davis, however, said "there has been no request from DHS for DoD support to house illegal migrants" at the moment.

Read more:

Caravan of migrants tests Trump's anti-immigrant policies

Family separations

The Trump administration confirmed on June 15 that a temporary encampment near the US-Mexico border in Texas had been built to house an increasing number of migrant children in government custody.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order to end the policy of separating children of irregular migrants on the US border amid domestic and global outrage.

Trump's decision marked a major shift for his administration. In May, he announced all adults attempting to enter the country illegally would be prosecuted under a "zero-tolerance" policy. As such, they would be held in federal facilities and separated from their children.

Read more: Trump's migrant family separations reversal too little, too late

Pentagon spokesman Davis said that "while four bases (three in Texas and one in Arkansas) have been visited by HHS for possible housing, it doesn't mean any or all children would be housed there."

New legislation

The outrage has put pressure on Republicans to present immigration legislation. Republican leaders were said to be putting the finishing touches on two bills in the House of Representatives. One of the bills would be a hard-right proposal and the other one a more moderate compromise.

The compromise bill would provide citizenship to young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children, and reduce the family separations.

Trump caused confusion when he said on television on Friday that he would not sign the moderate bill. The White House then drew back from his comments and indicated the president was ready to consider both.

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