Protesters rally against a plan to house unaccompanied migrant children at Moffett Field on March 15. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Federal officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are no longer considering the use of Moffett Field to house unaccompanied minors detained at the southern border, according to a statement from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo on March 18.

The agency has been searching for a place to temporarily shelter growing numbers of children arriving at the border, and surveyed buildings at Moffett Field for use as so-called “influx facilities” last week. The 1,940-acre federal property includes dorm-style buildings typically used to house NASA student interns.

Moffett Field in Mountain View. File photo by Michelle Le.

Immigrant rights groups blasted the idea, staging a protest Monday, March 15, over what they consider an abusive practice of detaining migrant children and separating them from their families. Members of the group Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) likened influx centers to locking children in cages.

“We are relieved the Biden Administration decided not to establish a children’s detention center in Mountain View, however, our work is not finished. Thousands of children and their families remain detained in inhumane and horrific conditions. History speaks for itself,” Maricela Gutierrez, executive director of SIREN, said in a statement. “We all know that the immigration detention system is flawed and beyond repair. We call on President Biden and Secretary Mayorakas to take bold actions by dismantling immigration detention completely.”

In a short statement, Eshoo said on March 18 that Health and Human Services (HHS) will not select Mofett Field to house migrant children, marking a quick decision to reverse course.