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HHS Update: No Fort Knox plans now or in the future

HHS Update: No Fort Knox plans now or in the future

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 4:11 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- No plans now or in the future.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday expanded on its prior statement regarding questions whether Fort Knox could be used as a temporary shelter for child immigrants apprehended at the U.S. Mexico border.

After the HHS said Monday it "has no plans to use Fort Knox as a temporary Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelter," WHAS11 asked for clarification whether the agency was qualifying its remark to apply only to current plans, rather than to possible future use once ROTC Cadets exit Fort Knox in September, leaving a vacancy the Defense Department has identified as a potential shelter for the children.

In a brief e-mail to WHAS11 on Tuesday, Kenneth J. Wolfe, HHS Deputy director, Office of Public Affairs, offered slightly more clarity, saying the HHS "has no plans to use Fort Knox as a temporary Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelter in the future."

Wolfe did not immediately reply to WHAS11's follow-up question whether Fort Knox was still an option for the program.

A staff member in U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's office told WHAS11 on Tuesday that the Fort Knox question was not resolved.

"HHS staff returned a call from our office and said that at this time they do not have a definitive answer one way or the other on the potential for future plans," said Dan Bayens. "They said that they are hoping to have a better answer later today or tomorrow."

Paul triggered a flurry of questions on Monday when he indicated in a speech to the Kentucky Chamber Business Summit that Fort Knox was in play.

"They're actually going to be shipping them, it looks like to Ft. Knox," Paul told the gathering. "Some of them are coming to Ft. Knox."

Yet after his speech Paul said he could not confirm that it was actually going to happen.

"I think there's rumblings that Ft. Knox would be a location for some of these kids," Paul said. 

Since last Fall, the flood of more than 57,000 unaccompanied children, mainly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, has overwhelmed the Homeland Security Department.  In May, federal agencies including the Defense Department, were asked to identify potential facilities to house the children after they transition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
 

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