The Pentagon could house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on military bases in coming months, after a request by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

“The Department of Defense has received a request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has requested DOD to determine its capabilities to provide up to 20,000 temporary beds for unaccompanied alien children at DOD installations,” said Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews.

He said that while four bases have been visited by HHS for possible housing, it does not mean that children will be housed there.

“HHS and DOD are working closely to determine the requirements and timing for support. Secretary Mattis’ guidance has been clear: that the DoD will support our federal partners,” Andrews said.

If approved, it would not be the first time unaccompanied migrant children are housed at military bases.

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