The United States Department of Health and Human Services has recently expressed its plan to put migrant children at Fort Sill, a 150-year-old Army base in Oklahoma that was once used as a Japanese concentration camp during World War II, and hold them there until they can be handed over to their relatives.
The agency, which had selected over 1,400 children to be put in the camp, will use Fort Sill “as a temporary emergency influx shelter” to help ease the burden on the government as they prepare to house even more minors, according to Time.
In a statement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that it has already taken around 40,900 children into their custody through April 30, which is a 57% increase from last year and at this rate, this is believed to surpass the record figures from 2016 when 59,171 migrant children were put into custody.
These children would be held inside the facilities that are separate from the general on-base population, as said in the Time report. They would then be supervised by staff from the Health and Human Services not military personnel.
Before choosing Fort Sill, the agency had already assessed two other military bases in the country, mainly Malmstrom Air Force Base and Fort Benning in Georgia, according to another Time report.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. government had used military bases for these kinds of purposes. It was noted that in 2014, the Obama administration placed around 7,700 migrant children in military bases in Texas, California, and Oklahoma, including Fort Sill, as temporary shelters but was pulled out four months later.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, however, showed skyrocketing figures compared to last year. It was stated there that the numbers have grown to 56,278 at the end of May – a 74% increase.