The US Navy is preparing plans to construct sprawling detention centers on its bases in several states to hold tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, as the administration of President Donald Trump seeks to ease a mounting migrant crisis on the US-Mexican border.
The US Navy plans to build “temporary and austere” tent cities to house the migrants at abandoned airfields in California, Alabama and Arizona, at a cost of about $233 million, a US official said on Friday.
The news was first reported by Time magazine on Friday.
The memo says that a Navy base in California could house up to 47,000 people, while another base in Alabama can house a further 25,000 migrants.
The internal document was drawn up by Phyllis Bayer, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The plan needs final approval by US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.
Trump on Wednesday ordered the Pentagon to work with the Department of Homeland Security to house the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants currently being held awaiting criminal proceedings.
Current facilities are at their breaking point and the immigration courts face deep backlogs.
Trump is facing a public outcry over his administration’s so-called “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Part of that approach was separating children from their parents who were detained crossing the US-Mexican border illegally.
On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order to halt family separations, but asserted that his policy against illegal border crossing was still in place.
US lawmakers are struggling to pass immigration legislation for a permanent fix of the migrants crisis.
Thousands of people have been protesting in several US cities in recent days and activists are planning nationwide protests on June 30 following reports on the inhumane treatment of detained immigrants and their children.
The United Nations human rights office said Friday that Trump’s decision to stop separating children from their parents did not go far enough, and that the practice may amount to torture.