The US government is evaluating whether to house unaccompanied migrant children at a military base in Virginia amid a sharp rise in migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, according to a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notice.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Fort Lee, a US Army facility about 48km south of Richmond, was under consideration.
The number of migrant children arriving at the southwestern border has increased in recent months, putting pressure on HHS-run shelters that house the children before they are released to parents or other sponsors in the United States.
In the notice, HHS said it urgently needs to find more shelter space for unaccompanied minors.
The department said it must “aggressively” find solutions for the rising number of children entering the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of migrants caught crossing the border and allowed to enter the United States has increased in recent weeks as US President Joe Biden has pledged to reverse many of the hardline policies of former president Donald Trump.
US officials are hurrying to find housing and speed up releases of a growing number of unaccompanied children arriving at the border after Biden exempted them in February from a Trump-era policy known as Title 42.
That policy, issued on COVID-19-related public health grounds, allows US authorities to rapidly expel migrants caught at the border.
The US has used military bases to house unaccompanied children during previous spikes in arrivals, including during a surge of unaccompanied minors in 2014 under former president Barack Obama.