Last week, for the first time, we were allowed inside Fort Sill to see the more than 1,000 children who crossed the border illegally and are now being housed there.
During my tour, I learned the average stay for the children is about 15 days, during which time they are given a clean bed, three meals a day, a health screening, vaccinations and about three days' worth of clothes, which are washed twice a week.
So, what does this cost the average taxpayer?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, $868 million federal dollars was appropriated to the Unaccompanied Alien Children program in 2014, along with another $44 million on top of that from the HHS secretary's transfer authority. During that time, 57,525 unaccompanied children, age 17 and under, were apprehended crossing the southwestern border.
There are currently 1,100 minors at the UAC program's temporary shelter at Fort Sill. Nationwide, there are three temporary facilities open: Joint Base San Antonio Lackland (Texas), Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme (Calif.) and Fort Sill (Okla.). The number of children housed at these facilities fluctuates daily.
The capacity for all three shelters is nearly 3,000 beds: Lackland has 1,100, Ventura has 600 and Fort Sill has 1,200. In addition to the temporary shelters, HHS has approximately 100 regular/permanent UAC shelters, mostly near the U.S.-Mexico border. The appropriated money pays for all the above mentioned services and contractors at these three U.S. military facilities.
While the money spent is not costing the State of Oklahoma, we did pay for it through our federal tax dollars.