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Trump administration considers tent cities for immigrant children

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Texas may soon be the site of tent cities that will house immigrant children separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, McClatchy reported Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is eyeing Fort Bliss, an Army base close to El Paso, as a potential location for a cluster of temporary shelters that could house between 1,000 and 5,000 children, McClatchy reported. The department is also considering Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo.

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Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents in the wake of the new policy, which U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April. The policy requires immigration authorities to prosecute adults who enter the country illegally seeking asylum, while children are placed in shelters or with families. The tent city proposal is the Department of Health and Human Services’ latest idea for housing the growing number of children under their care, who are quickly filling shelters.

The department did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who represents Fort Bliss, could not confirm the report late Monday afternoon.

“We have nothing confirmed about where or if military bases will be used for certain,” he said. “But, I first and foremost am opposed to this policy of family separation.”

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“This is absolutely the wrong thing for our country to be doing, and I would hate to see us continue this,” he added. “The prospect of building tents or using resources at military installations is just wrong.”

O’Rourke, who is running for the U.S. Senate, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees military policy.

Six Democratic state lawmakers from the El Paso area sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen and Scott Lloyd, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, raising concerns about the tent city idea.

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“The clear purpose of military bases is for armed services operations and housing of military personnel, not for housing immigrant children forcibly taken from their parents,” the letter reads.

The lawmakers — state Sen. José Rodríguez and state Reps. Joe PickettMary GonzálezJoe MoodyCésar Blanco and Evelina Ortega — particularly expressed worry that a temporary shelter at a military base could resemble a detention center, which could harm the children’s mental health.

Earlier on Tuesday, the lawmakers gathered at the federal courthouse in the border city to decry the pending move and urged the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider its policies.

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“Military bases should be used for armed services — I know [because] I served there,” said Blanco, a Navy veteran who trained at Fort Bliss. “We’re concerned that temporary ORR shelters at military bases may resemble baby jails and detention centers.”

Moody and González said they would do whatever was in their power as state lawmakers to make sure that the facility at Fort Bliss is adhering to current regulations that address child detention.

“Anytime that you’re housing children, your main concern has to be how are they being cared for, are you tending to the medical needs, their emotional needs,” Moody said. “And so, if we’re going to take that task on, is a military installation the best environment for that?”

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When reminded that the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama housed immigrant children at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Moody said he felt the same way then.

“It wouldn’t change my opinion one way or the other,” he said.

BY CLAIRE PARKER AND JULIÁN AGUILAR, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE


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A veteran teacher explains why Trump is incapable of learning

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While dyslexia has been mentioned now and then as one of the reasons Donald Trump is so ignorant of what it takes to govern in a free society, I want to explore it as foundational to his inability to learn and grow while in office—and also as a way to link disparate troubling elements in his makeup.

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White House pulls new FEMA nominee for barroom brawl — but not for his boss’ bribery

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MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began her Wednesday show detailing that Jeff Byard, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead FEMA, has withdrawn his name from nomination because of an "altercation" previously reported.

Already Trump's FEMA is having problems because of the lead FEMA officials being named in serious bribery scandals. Byard's boss, in particular, is under a 10-count indictment. To make matters worse, a former deputy is also under indictment, but for a completely different case involving a 2013 Navy scandal.

"Any mystery around that part of the guy’s past would have been cleared up this past year in August when he was indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged involvement in that Navy bribery scheme," Maddow reported. "He was arrested thereafter."

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Right-wing activists call on Mitch McConnell to stop blocking election security bills

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On Wednesday, CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing renewed pressure to take up election security legislation, from a pair of unlikely sources: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon.

Norquist — who once famously said that he wanted to slash government to a size where he could "drown it in a bathtub" — called for hand-marked paper ballots, and urged Congress to pass something similar to the bipartisan Secure Elections Act, which would have given states incentives to switch to secure voting methods and promoted data-sharing to identify threats. The measure was first introduced in 2017 by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (D-OK), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but never came to a vote.

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