600 Border Kids Could End Up At Base Near Tacoma

Jul 16, 2014

Hundreds of immigrant children held at the southern border could be moved to a military base near Tacoma.

Federal and local officials plan to discuss the option Wednesday.

TRANSCRIPT

Border officials are swamped, as record numbers of children flood in to the U.S. from Central America. They come alone. The average age is 14. And many are running from gang violence.

The feds have already opened a few temporary shelters closer to the border. And now officials are considering Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, as another location.

About 600 children could be moved to the base, as they wait for their day in court. Some of these children may qualify for asylum or other ways to legally stay in the U.S.

Congressman Denny Heck, of Olympia, helped set up Wednesday’s meeting. In a statement, Heck said, “The assessment of the facility is ongoing.” But that “nevertheless, the public deserves to know more about what this development would involve.”

The meeting will include federal officials from Housing and Human Services, which takes custody of minors on the border. It’ll also include staff from the city of Lakewood, where the base is located.

On its website, HHS says these temporary shelters have minimal impact on the local community. And they’re only authorized to stay open for four months. 

I’m Liz Jones, reporting/KUOW.