HUNDREDS OF DOCUMENTS RELEASED DETAILING PLANS TO BUILD MIGRANT DETENTION FACILITIES AT CONTAMINATED FORT BLISS SITE

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Washington, D.C. — Today, Earthjustice, along with its partners Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, GreenLatinos, Hispanic Federation, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, and Southwest Environmental Center, is releasing hundreds of internal federal documents on the proposed construction plans for a migrant detention facility at Fort Bliss in Texas.

These plans came as a result of President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which instigated a need for additional capacity to house migrants and migrant families detained at the U.S.–Mexico border, which brought on the construction or planning of new detention centers. 

KEY RESOURCES


→ Summary analysis explaining the unprecedented collection of documents.
→ Expert report on Fort Bliss, issued today, detailing the contamination and health concerns, recommendations, and more.
→ Expert report on Goodfellow Air Force Base, issued in Feb. 2019, discussing the toxic waste and contaminated soils at that proposed detention site.
→ Leer en Español

 

These bases are known to be riddled with toxic hazards from past military operations, spills, storage of toxic chemicals, unexploded ordnances, and firing ranges. These searchable records include seven sets of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) productions and two key documents pertaining to the plans for construction at Fort Bliss. However, this is not the first time that the administration has pursued construction plans on contaminated sites. Goodfellow Air Force Base was also under consideration for a planned detention facility.

Though the plans have reportedly stalled, Fort Bliss staff began coordinating with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to select a possible site for a temporary detention camp for families or unaccompanied minors in early May 2018. By the end of June, initial plans were for HHS to house 1,000 unaccompanied minors with possible eventual “incremental build up” to 7,500 unaccompanied minors, to be ready by August 31, 2018, and for DHS to house 2,000 people in a family residential center, with eventual potential buildup to 4,000 beds, according to the newly released documents.

“These documents we’re releasing today reveal an alarming effort by the Army and DHS to rush plans to build a family detention center at Fort Bliss without taking the necessary steps to make sure the site was free of toxic hazards. Despite known pollution on the site, the Army planned to build a detention center there without completing a full investigation of the extent of contamination or verifying that the waste had been cleaned up,” said Earthjustice attorney Melissa Legge. “This should signal to lawmakers, journalists, and the public how unscrupulous this administration can be while pursuing ill-conceived and dangerous anti-immigration policies.”

Though the plans have reportedly stalled, Fort Bliss staff began coordinating with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to select a possible site for a temporary detention camp for families or unaccompanied minors in early May 2018. By the end of June, initial plans were for HHS to house 1,000 unaccompanied minors with possible eventual “incremental build up” to 7,500 unaccompanied minors, to be ready by August 31, 2018, and for DHS to house 2,000 people in a family residential center, with eventual potential buildup to 4,000 beds, according to the newly released documents.

“These documents we’re releasing today reveal an alarming effort by the Army and DHS to rush plans to build a family detention center at Fort Bliss without taking the necessary steps to make sure the site was free of toxic hazards. Despite known pollution on the site, the Army planned to build a detention center there without completing a full investigation of the extent of contamination or verifying that the waste had been cleaned up,” said Earthjustice attorney Melissa Legge. “This should signal to lawmakers, journalists, and the public how unscrupulous this administration can be while pursuing ill-conceived and dangerous anti-immigration policies.”

Read the article at:

https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2019/foia-request-documents-on-plans-for-fort-bliss-migrant-detention-center