ALAMOGORDO, N.M. -- Holloman Air Force Base will be a temporary shelter for hundreds of immigrant children from Central America.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has directed the base to house up to 400 children starting in January, according to The Alamogordo Daily News.
The children are currently in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families.
Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce President Mike Espiritu said health department officials have already visited Holloman to see if the site could work.
"I'll be the contact on this perspective. I'll be working directly with HHS and Holloman and help them connect the dots with the things they need to take care of these young people," he said. "We'll be meeting with Holloman next week, and hopefully we'll have more information that we can provide to the public. "
The children will be housed in a vacant building that was used by the 4th Space Surveillance Squadron.
Espiritu said the children will be from several different Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. He said they have been immunized and screened for possible diseases.
The children are considered refugees who fled strife in their homeland or are trying to reunite with family in the U.S.
"That's what the purpose is, is to try and reunite them with their families," he said. "They may be placed with host families as well."
Espiritu encouraged members of the Alamogordo community to be supportive of the government and Holloman in trying to help the refugee children.
"I think we should help our government and base to support them in those needs. I believe we need to support our government and our base so that they're successful. If it means taking care of these kids for a period of time, then I think it's the right thing to do," he said. "They're children after all, and I think most people understand that. I think we're a very positive and humane community."