Unaccompanied minors under the age of 17 will be temporarily sheltered at the Doña Ana complex at Fort Bliss Army Base, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
HHS says the Fort Bliss facility was selected as a temporary shelter location for children coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The children will be cared for by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families.
HHS released the following statement:
“Fort Bliss Army Base, at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and at the direction of the Secretary of Defense, has been selected as a temporary shelter location for unaccompanied children cared for by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
HHS is legally required to provide care and shelter for all unaccompanied children referred by the US Department of Homeland Security, and works in close coordination with base officials on security and safety of the children and community. This effort has no impact on the ability of the Department of Defense to conduct its primary missions nor on military readiness.
The children do not attend local schools. The impact of these shelters on the local community is minimal. Children spend 35 days on average at the shelters and do not integrate into the local community while in HHS custody. They remain under staff supervision at all times.
HHS currently operates a network of over 100 shelters in 12 states and has a proven track record of accountability and transparency for program operations, as well as being a good neighbor in the communities where shelters are located.
HHS plans to start placing children at Fort Bliss during the first full week of September. Similar to other temporary shelter locations operated by HHS, tours for elected officials and stakeholders will be organized within one week of children arriving at the shelter.”
According to HSS, the children that will be housed at the temporary Fort Bliss facility will not come directly from Border Patrol facilities.
Prior to arriving to the military base, children will be medically screened and vaccinated. This includes a TB test and a pregnancy test for girls over the age of 10.
HSS says the facility has the capacity to fit 1,800 beds and that children will be supervised 24 hours a day with one adult for every eight children.
The unaccompanied minors will remain at the shelter until they are able to be released to a relative or sponsor and until their immigration cases are resolved.
The children are expected to arrive the first week of September.