June 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security formally asked the Pentagon Thursday to provide housing and care for at least 12,000 migrant families held at the border.
The Defense Department said DHS officials requested enough space to house 2,000 people within 45 days. Additional space would be added later.
The Pentagon was asked to identify a facility for 12,000 people or build semi-separate centers capable of holding 4,000 migrants at three separate locations, the Defense Department said in a statement Thursday.
The migrant families, after they are detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, would go to military facilities -- possibly in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California -- to comply with a court order that seeks to avoid separating children from their parents.
The Department of Health and Human Services has already assessed facilities on four military bases, including Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas and three in Texas -- Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base and the Army's Fort Bliss.
The DHS request comes after government officials said this month more than 2,000 migrant children have been separated as a result of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.
After severe public outcry, President Donald Trump eventually ordered border guards to keep detained migrant families together.