Over the first few months of 2021, the migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border has exploded. Due to the policies of the Obama, Trump and now Biden administrations, many of those migrants, particularly unaccompanied minors, remain housed in increasingly controversial “overflow facilities.”
Despite promises to reverse the policy, the Biden administration instead has taken the unprecedented step of now housing thousands of these unaccompanied minors on US military bases, a jolting move that hardly generated any attention from either the mainstream or independent media. This is true even for left-leaning outlets that spent much of the Trump era railing against and calling for the closure of these detention facilities as well as the increasing militarization of the US-Mexico border. The only exceptions have been those few outlets that covered the dangerous environmental contamination present at some of the bases now involved.
Currently, unaccompanied minors are being housed at two military bases in Texas and one in California. While there was media coverage of the decision to house children and teens at these bases, there was little journalistic interest in looking deeper into the issues of these particular bases, some of which are known for extremely unsanitary conditions or for allowing “serial rapists” to serve on base for years despite numerous reports about their crimes to base leadership. One of these bases has the highest rate of sexual assaults out of any joint base in the entire Department of Defense.
Not only that, but the US military’s computer network has consistently ranked among the top internet service providers for the trafficking of child pornography, further underscoring why military bases, particularly these military bases, are unsuitable for children.
Also concerning is the fact that US officials refuse to say how many children are being sent to these bases. HHS currently has more than 13,000 kids in their custody. That number is only projected to grow, with Customs and Border Protection now projecting that 184,000 unaccompanied minors could end up in government custody by this time next year.
In addition, these bases have not yet released photos of where the minors are kept and have even banned soldiers on these bases from photographing the areas where the children are being held. The tents they are housed in are said to be able to house 1,000 people each, implying that each base has received thousands of migrant children in recent weeks.
In recent years, prior to the current spike in the severity of the border crisis, thousands of migrant children that were placed into this system of “overflow facilities” and detention centers have been “lost” by the government and some have reported acts of physical and sexual abuse inside these facilities. These children’s reunification with their families can take months or years and, for many, it doesn’t happen at all. Now, with the opening up of these specific military bases to these unaccompanied children, it seems clear that these new, military-run enclosures are likely to be even more unsafe and are hardly a solution to the current situation on the US’ Southern border.