- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2014

The Pentagon is nearing its cap for the number of illegal immigrant children that it has agreed to house on military bases, forcing the Obama administration to consider its options for sheltering the influx of unaccompanied minors flooding over the borders.

Under a current interagency agreement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has committed the Pentagon to assisting 3,600 children for up to 120 days. Per the agreement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to reimburse the Pentagon for costs associated with that support.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said the cap was flexible and the military would continue to work with the administration.

“I’m sure if another agreement is required, we’ll work one out,” he said.

The federal government has scrambled to find facilities — including shuttered hospitals, colleges, office complexes and warehouses around the country — to place children by the thousands that are streaming into the country.

To date, 2,975 children are being housed at three different military bases, according to a Pentagon tally of the children living on its military bases.

Lackland Air Base in Texas is housing 1,200 children, Ventura Naval Station in California is hosting 575 children, and Fort Sill in Oklahoma has 1,200 children.

Now, military officials are waiting on the Health and Human Services Department to formally inspect facilities at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and approve them as a temporary home for 600 children, Col. Warren said. If approved, Joint Base Lewis-McChord would house the additional 600 children, bringing the number up to 3,575, according to a Defense Department document.

The facilities identified as appropriate temporary housing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord “normally serve as barracks/berthing for service members in a training status and include beds, showers and office spaces,” the document shows.

The Department of Health and Human Services would provide on-site supervision of the children, as well as “provide education and recreational opportunities until children can be united with families or placed in foster care,” according to the document.

The news comes as the Obama administration is poised to ask Congress for $2 billion and additional flexibility to deal with the influx of children pouring over the U.S.-Mexico border.

NBC News is reporting that President Obama plans to ask that the Department of Homeland Security be granted the authority to fast track the screening and deportation of the children.

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