Washington, DC August 1, 2018 – The Department of Defense is currently in the process of preparing to shelter as many as 20,000 immigrants and asylum seekers, including children, on a military bases in Texas and Arkansas. In opposition, nearly two dozen retired General and Flag Officers signed a letter expressing serious concern that diverting critical military resources to house thousands of asylum seekers will harm national security.
The text of the letter is below and is available in full here.
Dear Secretary Mattis,
As Americans who have dedicated our lives to defending our nation and keeping our Armed Forces strong and ready, we write to express our serious concerns about the use of military bases to indefinitely detain large numbers of immigrants and asylum seekers, including Children.
Our nation’s military bases are a vital source of our national strength, and they require significant manpower and resources to operate–even under the best of circumstances. Housing thousands of detained migrants at these installations over an extended period of time will divert critical defense resources from core military functions, reduce servicemember readiness, and detract from their ability to protect our homeland and defend our interests Abroad.
We recognize that this situation stems from President Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach at the southwest border, which requires that we divert precious immigration, law enforcement, and now military resources to detaining thousands of migrants, including children, who otherwise have no criminal record. We agree with U.S. Attorneys, local law enforcement, and immigration authorities that this policy, far from making us safer, needlessly creates additional risk by requiring public servants to focus on asylum-seekers rather than true national security threats.
We ask you to imagine what this policy looks like in practice: migrants, including families and children, held behind the fences of military bases under armed guard. Is this really the image of America, and of our Armed Forces, that we want to project to the world? Our closest allies, including the United Kingdom and Canada, have recoiled at photos of children separated from their families and denounced the Administration’s actions. Our allies are critical to our projection of strength abroad, and we should not be using our military bases to advance a policy that both drives a wedge between us and our closest partners. We also should not involve the military in actions that diminish our moral standing in the world and our ability to hold other nations to account for their human rights practices.
We urge you to do everything to make migrants’ stays on bases as short as possible and to maintain their living conditions at the highest possible standard. Furthermore, we urge you to prioritize transparency in any military role in housing or transporting detained migrants and to assist in the process of reuniting separated families.
Generations of Americans have served in uniform to make our military the strongest and most effective fighting force the world had ever known, one that both advances our interests and upholds our values as a country. This is the proud legacy we appeal to you to uphold, for this and future generations.
cc:          General Dunford
Secretary Nielsen
Secretary Azar
Clara Adams-Ender Brigadier General, USA
Ricardo Aponte Brigadier General, USAF
Juan Ayala Major General, USMC
Roosevelt Barfield Brigadier General, ARNG
David Brahms Brigadier General, USMC
Julia Cleckley Brigadier General, ARNG
John Douglas Brigadier General, USAF
F. Stephen Glass Rear Admiral, USN
Richard S. Haddad Major General, USAF
Irv Halter Major General, USAF
Jan Hamby Rear Admiral, USN
Gretchen S. Herbert Rear Admiral, USN
John Hutson Rear Admiral, USN
Dennis Laich Major General, USA
Randy Manner Major General, USA
Charlie Martinez Brigadier General, USAFR
Gale S. Pollock Major General, USA
John M. Schuster Brigadier General, USA
Michael Smith Rear Admiral, USN
Paul G. Smith Brigadier General, USA
Antonio Taguba Major General, USA
Stephen Xenakis Brigadier General, USA
Dick Young Rear Admiral, USN