Following the surge in the number of migrants detained at the US-Mexico border, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially requested the Pentagon for help in housing and caring for them.
A statement from the Pentagon said it had received a request "to house and care for an alien family population of up to 12,000 people".
A Defence Department spokesman said on Wednesday that the Pentagon has been asked to "identify any available facilities that could be used for that purpose", and if none are available to "identify available DoD (Department of Defence) land and construct semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people, at three separate locations", as per CNN.
A few days ago, a media report said that the DHS had plans to ask the Pentagon to house around 7,000 unaccompanied children at the Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, and 4,000 families at Fort Bliss. The Fort Bliss and Goodfellow proposals would require Defence Secretary James Mattis' sign-off, and each would bring on contractors to build temporary structures.
According to Wednesday's update, the DHS has also told the Defence Department it prefers the facilities to be built in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California. "DHS requires the requested capacity to house 2,000 people within 45 days. A timeline will be developed to add additional capacity," the spokesman said in a statement.
Following immense criticism over his 'Zero Tolerance' policy, US President Donald Trump was forced to sign an executive order to keep families together. On Wednesday, a federal judge from San Diago ordered the government to reunite all separated children with their families within 30 days, ending days of speculation as to what would happen to those separated before Trump's executive order.
In April, Trump's Zero Tolerance policy came into effect when the President ordered children to be separated from their parents at the border. The move was heavily criticised by several countries, but Trump refused to back down. It only following a media report of child abuse that the Trump administration decided to reverse their policy.
[With inputs from IANS]