As a part of a final push to make good on a 2008 campaign promise, President Barack Obama’s administration told Congress Wednesday it plans to move about a dozen inmates from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in the next few days and coming weeks, Reuters reported.
The transfers are a part of Obama’s strategy to cut down the number of inmates in the facility in the hope that raising per-inmate costs will convince a resistant Congress closing the prison is the best path forward. The detention center is one of the most recognizable symbols from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Transferred detainees will come from a list of 37 individuals who already have been cleared by the Pentagon to be sent to either their homelands or other countries. There are 91 prisoners still locked up in Guantanamo, with a plurality of those detainees hailing from Yemen, according to an ongoing count maintained by the New York Times.
— Carol Rosenberg (@carolrosenberg) March 28, 2016
The president detailed his final strategy to close the facility late last month. It includes a call to build stateside facilities that will keep inmates who are deemed unsafe to be transferred or released. The construction costs associated with that effort are expected to be as much as $475 million but will be offset by $180 million a year in saved operating costs.
But it’s not at all clear that the president will be able to convince the Republican-controlled Congress, which vehemently has opposed his policies throughout his time in office that closing the prison is the best idea. Closing Guantanamo would require congressional approval, and Republican lawmakers were quick to note in February they had no plans to help Obama add a victory on the issue to his legacy.