The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced today that it has visited an unused federal site in Kelso and will visit the Little Rock Air Force Base “for potential use as temporary shelter for unaccompanied alien children (UAC).” [CORRECTION: The site visit to LRAFB has been conducted, and the DOD sent out a follow-up news release saying the statement was “not on behalf of the United States Air Force.”]

It’s important to note that all children taken from their parents by the government at the U.S.-Mexico border are considered UAC, not just children seeking asylum on their own.


The announcement said HHS will decide whether to use the facilities for UAC.


Meanwhile, the United Methodist Church in Arkansas and the ACLU of Arkansas have issued statements opposing the Department of Justice’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating children from their families at the border, and about 60 to 100 people protested at the state Capitol last night, calling the gathering: “Emergency Rally: No immigrant cages in Arkansas.”

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, meeting in Hot Springs, passed a resolution urging the discontinuation of the policy. From the church news release:


The United Methodist Social Principles includes an important section regarding immigrants, called the “The Social Community: Rights of Immigrants,” in which it states, “We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God … We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.” (paragraph 162.H)

The ACLU of Arkansas condemned the use of the Little Rock Air Force Base as an immigrant detainment camp. From the ACLU:

“Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents. Families who are seeking asylum from violence and daily horror shouldn’t be shipped around the country to be detained indefinitely on an airforce base. They belong in homes and should be given the resources they need to start the healing process from the trauma of being separated,” said Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director.

Separating families has long-term emotional effects including psychological distress, anxiety, and depression. The ACLU has a current class-action lawsuit fighting for the immediate reunion of thousands of children and parents.

Governor Hutchinson, who has agreed to send Arkansas National Guard troops to the border, did not comment on the DOJ’s decision to send undocumented immigrants to the LRAFB and a detention site in Kelso, near Rohwer, where the government put Japanese Americans behind concertina wire during World War II, until yesterday:

“The decision to use a military installation or other federal property for housing immigrant families is a decision made in Washington and not in Little Rock. Any costs would be borne by the federal government and beyond that there is very little information on what plans are being considered.

Don’t blame him, in other words. Hutchinson did add, however, that he was “opposed to the use of any Arkansas facility that would be for children who are separated from their parents.” Which, according to HHS and DOD, would be the use for the sites, for unaccompanied children.

Other governors, including Republicans, have told the Trump administration to stuff it, canceling their agreements to send National Guard troops, the Huffington Post reports. They include Govs. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Charlie Baker (R-Mass.), Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.), Larry Hogan (R-Md.), Chris Sununu (R-N.H.), John Carney (D-Del.), Ralph Northam (D-Va.), Roy Cooper (D-N.C.), Phil Scott (R-Vt.) and Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.) From Huffington Post:


The moves nullify agreements the states had with the federal government, reached after President Donald Trump signed a proclamation in April ordering National Guard troops to help protect the border with Mexico.

“The Trump Administration’s family separation policy is immoral, unjust and un-American,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Children should be with their families, not trapped in cages, sobbing and calling out for their parents.”

The Washington Post has an explainer on what Trump’s executive order to DOJ to reverse his policy on separating families and the lies the administration has told about the situation. (Why beat around the bush? They were lying.) Since the “no tolerance” order took effect in April, 2,300 children were taken from their families and incarcerated — though the U.S. uses the term “sheltered.”