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story.lead_photo.caption Immigrant families line up to enter the central bus station after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Sunday in McAllen, Texas.

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — The Trump administration has chosen an Army base and an Air Force base, both in Texas, to house detained migrants swept up in the federal government's crackdown on illegal immigration, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday.

Mattis said he could not confirm specifics, such as the number of migrants to be sheltered at Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base. He spoke to reporters in Alaska alongside Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican.

"We'll provide whatever support the Department of Homeland Security needs in order to house the people that they have under their custody," Mattis said. "We will work that out week by week, the numbers obviously are dynamic so we will have to stay flexible in our logistics support."

Mattis was in Alaska to visit Fort Greely, where the U.S. military maintains an arsenal of missiles designed to shoot down long-range ballistic missiles. Afterward he was heading to Beijing and then to Tokyo and Seoul.

The U.S. military has a long history of providing logistical support to people "escaping tyranny" or affected by natural disasters, Mattis said, explaining he recognized the "political aspects" of the situation along the southern border of the U.S.

"We provide logistics support, and we're not going to get into the political aspect," he said. "Providing housing, shelter for those who need it is a legitimate governmental function."

The number of detained migrants who might be held at Bliss and Goodfellow has not been announced, but the Pentagon had said last week that it had been asked to be prepared to shelter as many as 20,000 unaccompanied children.

The Pentagon had initially talked about four potential bases, but Mattis indicated the number is now two.

Two facilities in Arkansas had been considered to detain people arrested at the southern U.S. border: Little Rock Air Force Base and a former U.S. Department of Agriculture facility in Kelso.

It wasn't clear if the selection of the Texas bases indicated the Arkansas locations would not be used. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Rep. French Hill and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, all Arkansas Republicans, had previously issued statements against holding the unaccompanied children in Arkansas.

In a statement Monday, the Little Rock Air Force Base acknowledged it was one of the bases considered for housing migrants. But the statement didn't indicate whether the central Arkansas base would be used in any capacity.

"[The Department of Health and Human Services] and [the Department of Defense] are working closely to determine the requirements and timing for support," the statement said. "Secretary Mattis' guidance has been clear: that the [Department of Defense] will support our federal partners."

One official said unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S. border would be sheltered at one of the bases — Bliss or Goodfellow — and the other base would house families of migrant detainees. Under the arrangement, the Defense Department would provide the land but the operations would be run by other agencies.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff members contributed to this story.

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  • DoubleBlind
    June 25, 2018 at 12:49 p.m.

    “It wasn't clear if the selection of the Texas bases indicated the Arkansas locations would not be used.” Isn’t it the job of JOURNALISTS to get to the bottom of a question of this magnitude?! There had better be a forthcoming clarification which quotes Hutchinson.

  • DoubleBlind
    June 25, 2018 at 1:29 p.m.

    The only thing the update clarified is that LRAFB is still under consideration. Still no word from Hutchinson. No reason to believe at this point his previous ‘assurances’ that LRAFB wouldn’t be used were empty.

  • Dero
    June 25, 2018 at 1:34 p.m.

    Doubleblind seems appropriate since the article states that this is all non-official / off the record information being reported. Nothing "official" has been declared....but this does give an indication of how do many people can be led astray by "fake news"

  • DoubleBlind
    June 25, 2018 at 1:54 p.m.

    Dero - None other than Mad Dog Mattis, Trumps Sec of Defense CONFIRMED YESTERDAY that there are 2 bases, without naming them because he knows there will be backlash. I’m not sure how something reported by someone of his stature and role can be considered ‘fake news.’

  • abb
    June 25, 2018 at 1:55 p.m.

    House them at Shemya Island (Eareckson AFB), AK

  • GeneralMac
    June 25, 2018 at 2:43 p.m.

    There is a perfect place...........Adak Alaska.

    There used to be a Naval Air Station there so there should still be barracks and an airfield.

    If they want to escape, they can build a raft and float a few miles into Russia.
    I'm sure Putin will give them a warm welcome.

  • DoubleBlind
    June 25, 2018 at 5:29 p.m.

    GM & abb - If you’re such fans of AK, why don’t you move there. You could have a 3-way w/what’s-her-name, the gynophobe bim who ran for VP a decade ago and was then relegated to reality TV where her family’s dysfunction - not to mention criminality - was revealed. I don’t remember her name because she’s long become a nobody. She’s probably been eaten and shlt out by a bear by now. I recall Tina Fey accurately portraying her on SNL, however. Funny.

  • GeneralMac
    June 25, 2018 at 6:49 p.m.

    DoubleBlind........Adak Alaska would be perfect !

    On the tip of the string of Aleutian Islands, no vegetation grows over knee high, about 350 residents and the abandoned Navy Air Station is referred to resembling a ..ghost town.

  • DoubleBlind
    June 25, 2018 at 7:49 p.m.

    You first, GM. Again, you sound very bear tasty. Yum!

  • WhododueDiligence
    June 25, 2018 at 8:38 p.m.

    Although millions of people hike and fish and kayak and camp in national parks and other wilderness areas where grizzlies hang out, it's extremely rare for anyone to be injured--much less eaten--by a bear. Bears seem to know instinctively that people are noxious. So it's doubtful that's what happened to what's her name from Alaska who could see Russia but couldn't name a newspaper. She seemed especially noxious.

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