Announcement of the Decision To Use Federal Facilities at Fort Drum, New York, as a Temporary Holding Facility for Illegal Aliens

November 10, 1981

The Federal facilities at Fort Drum near Watertown, N.Y., will be utilized as a temporary holding facility for aliens arriving illegally in this country, pending construction of a permanent facility. A thorough search was conducted by the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Defense. All these Departments agreed Fort Drum was the one site that met the key criteria, including capacity, availability, and minimal impact on defense operations.

Use of this site will allow the Immigration and Naturalization Service to continue the administration's policy of detaining aliens arriving illegally in the United States, pending resolution of their status.

In connection with this decision, the President today met with Representative David Martin of New York who has been particularly concerned with the preservation of Fort Drum's role in national defense plans. The President reassured him of the administration's commitment to the long term development and use of the base as a key defense installation. The President also indicated that the temporary use of Fort Drum as a detention facility will in no way compromise current activities at the base. No decision has been made for the location of a permanent facility.