National News

Report: Navy documents show plans to house 25,000 migrants in Orange Beach, Silverhill areas

Posted June 23, 2018 11:36 a.m. EDT

— The U.S. Navy is preparing plans to build sprawling detention centers for tens of thousands of immigrants on remote bases in California, Alabama and Arizona, escalating the military's task in implementing President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy for people caught crossing the Southern border, according to a copy of a draft memo obtained by TIME.

Two of those bases, are in our backyard.

The Navy memo outlines plans to build "temporary and austere" tent cities to house 25,000 migrants at abandoned airfields in Baldwin County at Navy Outlying Field Wolf north of Orange Beach and nearby Navy Outlying Field Silverhill.

Reacting to that, local state leaders have a very clear message: not now, not ever. It's the same message they gave the federal government two years ago when a similar plan came up. This time, they're pushing back even more.

"This is not the right place for them, they need to be kept close to the border where they were apprehended...we've got to find a better process for moving these people through the system very quickly. If they do get asylum, give them asylum and put them in the asylum process, but if they're not, send them back to their country of origin," said Congressman Bradley Byrne.

Byrne mentioned legislation in the works to possibly alleviate the illegal immigrant influx. But none of it has passed the House and the Senate yet. He also said children being separated from their families at the border, represents only a small fraction of the immigrants coming into the country illegally.

Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott is on the same page.

"It's a nightmare," he told FOX10 News. "[the field in Orange Beach] is literally a hop, skip, and a jump from the water, and here we are in hurricane season, what are your evacuation plans to get 25,000 people who have no transportation of their own whatsoever, out of harms way, if there's a hurricane? This is poor planning, and a poor idea."

Elliott and Byrne both brought up that there is no electricity or power at the two sites, making it "inhumane" for people to live in tents there.

The illegal immigrants staying there would be awaiting criminal proceedings for crossing the southern border.

And like the border, this latest immigration snafu has folks in Baldwin County on both sides of the debate.

Meanwhile, the county commission and Congressman Byrne expect to talk to officials with the Department of Homeland Security early next week to make their message loud and clear. They're confident they can talk the feds out of it, just like last time.