HHS Asks the Pentagon to House Immigrants at Joint Base San Antonio

The Department of Health and Human Services on March 23 asked the Pentagon to evaluate two bases to house unaccompanied immigrants, including a vacant dormitory at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby told reporters the Defense Department had “just received this request” on March 23, and the Pentagon is beginning to evaluate the requirements. HHS requests the dormitory and open land at Fort Bliss, Texas, to alleviate strain at other facilities along the border.

HHS officials visited the locations last week in advance of the request, Kirby said. He did not know how many children would be housed at the locations.

A surge of immigrants at the southern border, beginning in late 2020, has overwhelmed Customs and Border Protection facilities in Texas.

It is the second time in about two years that USAF and other DOD installations have been evaluated to house immigrants. In 2019, HHS evaluated Malmstrom Air Force, Mont.; Fort Sill, Okla.; and Fort Benning, Ga., to house unaccompanied children. In 2014, almost 2,000 unaccompanied children were housed at Fort Bliss, according to Military Times.