Maxwell-Gunter Again “Assessed” for Housing Immigrant Detainees

January 6, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base is being assessed for possible housing of illegal immigrant minors detained at the Mexican border, a proposal U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today called a “terrible idea” and vowed to fight.  

The Pentagon recently informed Roby’s office by email that Maxwell-Gunter is among six military bases being assessed by the Department of Health and Human Services as a place to house children from the influx of minors at the southern border while they await deportation. In a letter to the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, Roby pushed back saying military installations are no place to house detained children. 

“The Air Force personnel at Maxwell-Gunter, like members of the U.S. Military stationed at bases throughout the country, are working hard to keep America safe. That mission is challenging enough without the added responsibility of housing, feeding and securing detainees,” Roby wrote. 

More than a year ago, Alabama’s Congressional delegation shut down an attempt by the Obama Administration to use Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base to house minors detained at the Mexican border. Then and now, the serious and sensitive missions of bases like Maxwell-Gunter do not need to be disturbed by the housing, feeding and securing of detained minors, Roby said. 

“A military base is no place to house illegal immigrant children. Bases like Maxwell are engaged in real military activities - training, education, cyber warfare - many times in classified settings that are very sensitive. Their mission does not need to be distracted by housing, feeding and securing hundreds of detainees.

“Housing illegal immigrant children at an active military base like Maxwell-Gunter is a terrible idea. We shut it down the first time and we are working every angle to shut it down again.”

Below is the text of the email from the Department of Defense informing Roby’s office that federal authorities would be doing “site assessments” for potential housing at six military bases, including Maxwell-Gunter AFB:

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Notification on Temporary Shelters for Unaccompanied Children

 

Mike - The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS is expanding its capacity to provide shelter for the current influx of Unaccompanied Children at the U.S. Southern Border.  This temporary increased shelter capacity is a prudent step needed to ensure ORR meets its statutory responsibility to provide shelter for the unaccompanied children referred to its care and to assist CBP in ensuring that the US Border Patrol continues its vital national security mission to prevent illegal migration and trafficking, and to protect the borders of the United States.

To ensure sufficient capacity to provide shelter to unaccompanied children referred to HHS, HHS is activating the following federal facilities for use as temporary shelters:

Homestead Job Corps, Homestead, FL

Estimated operational start date: February 2016

Estimated capacity:800 beds

Denver Federal Campus, Lakewood, CO

Estimated operational start date: April 2016

Estimated capacity:1,000 beds

In addition, HHS is scheduling site assessments of 6 DoD facilities, beginning the week of January 4. These site assessments will include representatives from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement, the military installation, and safety officials and will assess the viability of the facility for use as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied children.  Please note this is only a preliminary assessment - no final decision has been made regarding the use of any of these facilities.

.  Gunter  Annex - Maxwell Air Force Base, AL (nearest city: Montgomery, AL)

.  Tyndall Air Force Base, FL (nearest city: Panama City, FL)

.  Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND (nearest cities: Emerado, ND and Grand Forks, ND)

.  Naval Support Activity Philadelphia, PA (nearest city: Philadelphia, PA)

.  Hanscom Air Force Base, MA (nearest city: Bedford, MA)

.  Travis Air Force Base, CA (nearest city: Fairfield, CA)

 

Please contact myself or Lt Col Kevin Humphrey (cc'd) if you have any questions.

 

Thanks,

Matt

 

Matthew Rhoades

Chief, Policy

Office of the Secretary of Defense - Legislative Affairs