Trump Says U.S. Will Build 'Tent Cities’ to House ‘Caravan’ Migrants

By Patrick Goodenough | October 30, 2018 | 4:31am EDT
Central Americans migrants hoping to reach the United States walk through southern Mexico on October 27, 2018. (Photo by Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images)

( – The administration plans to “build tent cities” to accommodate any of the Central American “caravan” migrants who arrive at the border and seek asylum, President Trump said Monday.

Speaking to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on a day when the Pentagon announced that more than 5,000 active duty troops are being deployed to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection to “harden” the southwest border, Trump repeated his position that the columns of migrants heading through Mexico in a bid to reach the U.S. would not be allowed to bypass legal procedures.

“If they want to come into the country, you have to apply, like other people,” Trump said.

“This caravan is not— they’re wasting their time.”

Unlike the previously-implemented “catch and release” policy, he said, “we’re catching, we’re not releasing.’

Asked by Ingraham about those who might want to apply for asylum in the U.S., Trump said “we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place.”

“Where?” asked Ingraham. “We have the facilities?”

“We’re going to put up— we’re going to build tent cities,” he replied. “We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re going to have tents – they’re going to be very nice – and they’re going to wait, and if they don’t get asylum, they get out.”

In reply to a question, Trump denied that his decision to deploy the military along the border was an election year ploy.

“This has nothing to do with elections,” he said. “And I’ve been saying this long before election, I’ve been saying this before I ever thought of running for office.”

“We have to have strong borders,” Trump added. “If we don’t have strong borders, we don’t have a country.”

On social media, some Trump critics quickly accused him of planning “concentration camps.”

“Trump says he plans to build ‘tent cities’ – concentration camps – for people traveling with the caravan, where they will be indefinitely detained,” tweeted Think Progress journalist Aaron Rupar.

In 2016, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services used a tent village next to the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami–Dade County, Florida to house Central American unaccompanied minor migrants

In March 2017 the Homestead temporary shelter was reported to be closing down, since the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border had dropped significantly.

Last June, McClatchy reported that the Trump administration HHS was examining military bases in Texas for potential use for temporary migrant tent cities.

Meanwhile U.S. Northern Command commander, Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy told reporters in Washington Monday that 800 troops were on their way to Texas from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox in Kentucky, and that by the end of this week more than 5,200 soldiers would be deployed to the southwest border.

O’Shaughnessy said the deployment, dubbed Faithful Patriot, would be in addition to 2,092 National Guard troops already on the ground supporting the CBP.

With a focus on southern Texas, Arizona and California, he said, “we’ll reinforce along priority points of entry, so as to enhance CBP’s ability to harden and secure the border.”

The deployment will include army engineers, “combat engineering battalions with expertise in building temporary vehicle barriers,” three medium-lift helicopter companies, military police units, medical and logistics units, and three C-130 Hercules and a Boeing C-17 transport plane “ready to deploy CBP personnel wherever they need to be at any time.”

In response to a question, O’Shaughnessy confirmed that the units which are usually assigned with weapons, would be “deploying with weapons.”

“I think the president has made it clear that border security is national security,” he said.

“Our orders are very clear. We are engaged. We’re here to support CBP. And we’re going to secure the border.”

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