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story.lead_photo.caption Governor Asa Hutchinson is shown in this file photo.

Immigration-rights advocates and a few Arkansas congressmen found rare common ground Thursday with their objection to a proposal to use two facilities in Arkansas to detain people arrested at the southern U.S. border.

Federal officials toured Little Rock Air Force Base on Thursday afternoon to determine its suitability, spokesman Airman 1st Class Kristine Gruwell said.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford also appeared to confirm in an afternoon tweet Thursday the second location under consideration in Arkansas. The Republican representative said federal officials were at a "fish experiment station" in Kelso in Desha County to explore setting up an "immigrant detainment center."

"How is a tent city on a flood plain in SE Arkansas more appropriate than a tent city on the border?" he wrote.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement it is his understanding that the only sites in the state that are under review are the Air Force base and unused federal land in south Arkansas. He would not confirm whether the second site was in Kelso.

"It is up to [the Department of Health and Human Services] to answer questions about potential sites," Hutchinson said. "I am opposed to the use of any Arkansas facility that would be for children who are separated from their parents."

Previously the governor had said he wanted "to be helpful if we can help carry out the policy of keeping the families together."

The federal agency did not respond to emails asking if the Arkansas locations were being evaluated to hold unaccompanied children, families, or both. Earlier Thursday, the Pentagon said it will make space on military bases for as many as 20,000 unaccompanied children who were detained after crossing the border between the United States and Mexico.

A Pentagon memo to members of Congress, obtained by The Associated Press, said it has been asked to have the facilities available as early as July and through the end of the year.

It's not clear which bases will be used to house children. In addition to the base in Jacksonville, three bases in Texas were assessed as potential shelter locations: Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base and Fort Bliss.

The development came a day after President Donald Trump rescinded his administration's policy that effectively separated families caught crossing the border without authorizing documents. Instead, the order seeks to detain parents and children together by changing a legal precedent that says children must be released from custody to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers.

Trump's order "only partially fixed a policy of his own making," said Mireya Reith, executive director of the Arkansas United Community Coalition.

"It does nothing to address due process and assure that these families would have an opportunity to seek asylum status in this country," she said.

New detention facilities in Arkansas, coupled with a pending budget increase for the Department of Homeland Security, would feed the problem, not help it, Reith said.

Though media attention catapulted the border crisis to the national stage, parents have been separated from their children since at least January 2017, Reith said. That's when Trump enacted an executive order that, among other things, prioritized the prosecution of unlawful entry.

Reith said she was on her way Thursday afternoon to a protest at the state Capitol. A nationwide protest against Trump's immigration policies is set for June 30.

Two Republican congressmen from Arkansas also have said they are against any detention facility in Arkansas.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton "believes it's more appropriate that all persons should be kept at or near the border, not at remote locations," spokesman James Arnold said in an email. U.S. Rep. French Hill said in a statement, "These children belong with their parents at the border, not hundreds of miles away at the Little Rock Air Force Base or other locations in Arkansas."

Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said in an email that children don't belong in jail, even if they are 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 Air Force bases in a move eerily reminiscent of the disgraceful concentration camps used to detain Japanese-Americans," she said.

That comparison is literal for the proposed location in Kelso. The land on which the fish experiment station sits was formerly home to the Rohwer internment camp, where some 8,000 Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II, according to the business agent with knowledge of the sale.

Andrew Wargo III said he has worked for Baxter Land Co. for nearly 50 years. After World War II, the internment camp land was broken into parts and sold. Baxter Land Co. bought 320 acres, Wargo said, which translates to a plot a half-mile wide and a mile long.

[U.S. immigration: Data visualization of selected immigration statistics, U.S. border map]

Later on, Wargo said the company sold the northern half and it ended up in possession of the U.S. Department of the Interior. That piece of land is where the fish experiment station sits, Wargo said.

That area lies at the bottom of a flood plain, Wargo said, which is why he's concerned about it possibly being used as a detention area. With a bout of rain, he said, people would be "wading around in 3-feet deep water, dodging the snakes."

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.

Photo by Arkansas Secretary of State
U.S. Rep Rick Crawford
Photo by Anthony Reyes
Mireya Reith, executive director of the Arkansas United Community Coalition, is shown in this file photo.
Photo by Democrat-Gazette file photo
Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, is shown in this photo.

Metro on 06/22/2018

Print Headline: 2 state sites on detention-camp list

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  • abb
    June 22, 2018 at 7:18 a.m.

    A suitable location to house them is in their country of origin.

  • KnuckleBall
    June 22, 2018 at 8:07 a.m.

    The Trumpster wants to stop people from coming into this country. A lot are trying to get away from being made to work for the drug cartels in South America.

    Stop the Cartels and maybe these people would stop trying to leave their country in mass.

  • Illinoisroy
    June 22, 2018 at 8:58 a.m.


  • GeneralMac
    June 22, 2018 at 9:33 a.m.

    KnuckleBall.........." a lot are trying to get away from being made to work for the drug cartels in South America"

    Which South American countries border us ?

    If they are trying to enter via the Mexico border, they should be safe once they crossed into Mexico.

    Why don't they seek "asylum" in Mexico instead of just cross it to get to the US?

    We all knows the answer..........better economy in the US $$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    However, poverty is not grounds for granting asylum.

  • mrcharles
    June 22, 2018 at 9:35 a.m.

    With our history of holding japenese-AMERICANS,LR CENTRAL , JIM JOHNSON, FAUBAUS , AND the PRESENT DIVINES IN THE ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE I DO NOT WANT PEOPLE "HOUSED" HERE IN ARKANSAS. From a spiritual standpoint, from a moral stand point, from the World looking at us, from an innate right and wrong of sentient beings, and from imitating fascist regimes, I am against this plan.

    Lots of disagreement with Bishop Taylor and his deity system , one of thousands, on a hoist of other issues, but his system do come through from time to time [ sometimes kicking and screaming ] with a cross road meeting of secular and mystical agreement on a basic human humanity.

    Let's do right for humanity here in Arkansas.

  • donnadee12centurytelnet
    June 22, 2018 at 9:41 a.m.

    Noooooo!!! No illegals please. Our military facilities are SUPPOSED to be for military only and yet you allow civilians and now illegals on our base. Shame on you. Where is our security. You are allowing infiltration of illegals. It won’t stop at children it’ll be drug runners, thieves, rapists, ms 13. Please rethink this. Not on our base. Pull your heads out and protect our security. There are other places besides our bases. Quit doing stupid for your political gains.

  • GeneralMac
    June 22, 2018 at 10:32 a.m.

    1st post of the day nailed it !

    How times have changed !
    Anyone remember all the concerts and fund raising to help the starving people in Bangledesh ?

    We sent humanitarian aid........TO THE PEOPLE IN THEIR COUNTRY.

    We didn't try to help by taking the entire population into the United States ( which is what liberals of today favor )

  • GeneralMac
    June 22, 2018 at 10:38 a.m.

    "asylum" is turning into an excuse.

    The only people who had a reason to get "asylum" were the people from SE Asia whose lives were in danger because they helped the United States during the Vietnam War.

    Today, just because they claim there is violence in their country they ask for "asylum" ?

    There is "violence" going on in EVERY country in the world.
    Do we take everyone in that lives in those countries and use that EXCUSE ?

  • JakeTidmore
    June 22, 2018 at 12:20 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your prejudices PvtMuck. You're just too good for the rest of us, aren't you?
    Genuine American Snob. GAS for short.

  • JakeTidmore
    June 22, 2018 at 12:25 p.m.

    Mr C - moral decency is in very short supply with the GAS crowd. Don't get your hopes up that it will change as long as #45 poisons the office and our nation with his bigotry. He and his toadies simply don't care about morality or humanity or having a conscience. They live to be lied to and believe those lies. That is their sick idea of nutrition.