Central CA National Guard base being considered to house unaccompanied migrant children

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is considering using a California National Guard base in Central California as a facility to house unaccompanied migrant children, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to ABC News on Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said Camp Roberts, which is located in San Luis Obispo County north of Paso Robles, was visited and surveyed earlier this week for potential use by the HHS.

This comes after approximately 500 teenage migrants were brought to the San Diego Convention Center to be temporarily sheltered. On Tuesday, the HHS reported 37 of those teens contracted COVID-19 and were isolated.

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Federal law requires migrant children to be turned over to HHS, which is charged with their care, within 72 hours. But amid constraints resulting from the pandemic and the accelerated pace of arrivals, the administration has had a difficult time catching up to the arrival of minors, resulting in thousands held up in border facilities.

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In the rush to get children out of overcrowded and often unsuitable Border Patrol sites, President Joe Biden's team is turning to a measure used by previous administrations: tent camps, convention centers and other huge facilities operated by private contractors and funded by U.S. Health and Human Services. In March alone, the Biden administration announced it will open eight new emergency sites across the Southwest adding 15,000 new beds, more than doubling the size of its existing system.

These emergency sites don't have to be licensed by state authorities or provide the same services as permanent HHS facilities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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