Unaccompanied migrant kids might be housed at National Guard post in Central California

Migrant Centers

An unaccompanied minor looks up as he waits to answer questions from a U.S. Border Patrol agent at an intake site after he was smuggled on an inflatable raft across the Rio Grande river in Roma, Texas, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The Biden administration says that it’s working to address the increase in migrants coming to the border. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the White House efforts at the U.S. southern border and work with Central American nations to address root causes of the migration. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

SAN MIGUEL, Calif. (AP) — The federal government may house unaccompanied migrant children on a California Army National Guard base in central California, officials said.

The Pentagon on Friday approved the use of Camp Roberts to temporarily house migrant children traveling alone, according to a defense official.

It was not immediately clear if or how many children could be placed at the camp, which is located along the Salinas River almost directly between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday that the camp is “under active consideration.” The department has not yet finalized its decision.

“When HHS decides to activate an Emergency Influx Site for unaccompanied migrant children we will notify state and local authorities as well as members of Congress,” the department said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had requested the use of the base, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed Thursday.

The California National Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

Border authorities encountered more than 9,000 children without a parent in February, the highest single month since May 2019, when more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors came to the border.

After being processed by the Border Patrol, they are transferred to Health and Human Services. Eventually they will be released to a sponsor, usually a parent or close relative.

Unlike adults in many situations, all unaccompanied minors are allowed to stay in the U.S. That dynamic has prompted many parents to either send kids on the journey to America alone, or get to the border and let them go the rest of the way. Most end up at least temporarily in shelters that are currently way beyond capacity.

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